Jarrett M. Drake (Princeton University) wrote up the talk he gave at the 2016 Radcliffe Workshop on Technology & Archival Processing at the Schlesinger Library, “RadTech Meets RadArch: Towards a New Principle for Archives and Archival Description” where he critiques provenance “from appraisal through access.” Challenging the centrality of provenance in archival description, Drake considers its role in social and technical contexts in terms of born digital records:
As stated earlier, this new way of conceiving archives and archival description wouldn’t necessarily extinguish the principle of provenance. Destroying one colonial relic to replace it with another gains us nothing. Rather, this new archival principle would be one possible way to do and describe archives. This plea is a call for construction, and if destruction is but one small outcome, so it is. Also, I have neglected to provide any specific principle that I myself would assert for consideration. This is intentional. The truly transformative principle that is needed for archival practice and archival description cannot come from one person or from one invite-only forum, but such a principle necessarily must develop organically, slowly, and anti-oppressively with a radical cross-section of academic, disciplinary, racial, ethnic, gender, cultural and class backgrounds represented. In this sense, a new foundational archival principle, should it be worth anything, must be developed beyond the bounds of the archival profession.
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