The Archaeology of Disciplines: or adventures in the analogue archive

Speaker: Professor Elizabeth Edwards - De Montfort University, Leicester

What does the material archive teach us? I shall explore the transformation in recent years of the analogue archive from a space of receding utility to a space of expanding intellectual enquiry. Walter Benjamin famously noted how history flashes up in moments of danger. I shall argue that the shift from analogue to digital archive is such a moment because it constitutes a silent, stealthy change in the way disciplinary knowledge is made. With special reference to assemblages from art history, but not exclusively so, I shall look at some research projects on analogue collections, which bring a new focus which goes beyond the content of images, and into the core values of disciplines themselves. 

Elizabeth Edwards is a visual and historical anthropologist and is currently Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Victoria and Albert Museum Research Institute, London. She is Professor Emerita of Photographic History at De Montfort University, Leicester. She is also Honorary Professor in the Department of Anthropology University College London. She has long acquaintance with large assemblages of photographs. Until 2005 she was Curator of Photographs at Pitt Rivers Museum and lecturer in visual anthropology at ISCA, University of Oxford, where she is a Curator Emerita and Research Affiliate.  She is on the advisory boards of the Kunsthistorisches Institut (Max Planck Gesellschaft) in Florence and the National Science and Media Museum (Science Museum Group) in Bradford. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2015.  

Organised by Dr Tom Nickson (The Courtauld). 

Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

This event has passed.

5:30pm, 22 Oct 2021

Friday 22nd October, 5.30pm - 7.00pm BST

Free, booking essential

Lecture Theatre 1, Vernon Square and Online

Please note this event will be live streamed to allow those outside London access to the event. All those who wish to access the event via this online method should book a ‘Livestream’ ticket rather than ‘Lecture Theatre’ ticket.  

Booking closes 30 minutes before the event start time. 


Photograph showing a grid of images and captions laid out on a table.
Display from Inquéritos ao Terrítório at the Museu Nacional de Etnologia in Lisbon. Photo: Elizabeth Edwards