Destroyed Ruskin student archives and online debate on the nature of history
I have just finished preparing a paper for the Radical Histories conference this weekend on the destruction of the student historic archives at Ruskin College in 2012. This is the first time I have spoken at length in public about the topic although there is material on this website and on History Workshop Online and New Ruskin Archives . Depending on how you look at it the timing is apposite for talking about political moments and defeats.
The paper explores the way in which the student archives stood in as a signifier of the loss of a respected institution in central Oxford and changes in its ‘ethos’.In discussing the role of archives within the petition drawn up to oppose their destruction we saw a drawing together of family and academic historians, autodidacts, archivists, former students and staff who expressed their views on the importance of archives in the creation of history.
Perhaps it’s the first online petition to quote from Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida in support! There were some odd juxtapositions: ‘How dare you spit on their graves! Those archives are a primary source.’ But it was also a personally felt issue for many who used the language of emotional distress and anger ‘ barbaric’, ‘gratuitous vandalism’, ‘utterly shocking’,’absolutely wicked’. A depressing task revisiting this particular defeat.
I believe registration is still open and you can pay on the day.