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February 20 , 2009

From the Ashes of History


The formation, organization, and accessibility of archives and libraries are critical for the production of historical narratives. They contain the materials with which historians and others reconstruct past events. Archives and libraries, however, not only help produce history, but also have a history of their own. From the early colonial projects to the formation of nation states in Latin America, archives and libraries had been at the center of power struggles and conflicting ideas over patrimony and document preservation that demand historical scrutiny. Much of their collections have been lost on account of accidents or sheer negligence, but there are also cases of recovery and reconstruction that have opened new windows to the past. The essays in this volume explore several fascinating cases of destruction and recovery of archives and libraries and illuminate the ways in which those episodes help shape the writing of historical narratives and the making of collective memories.

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