Sympathy on Record
All over the world, critiques of the silences imposed by public archives have led to movements to establish “counter-archives” or “identity archives” presenting the perspective of particular groups. One example is the Keston Archive and Library, a collection of religious samizdat and documents on the situation of Soviet believers compiled by the Anglican priest Michael Bourdeaux in Great Britain, and currently housed at Baylor University. Keston is a counter-archive not only in terms of its content, but also in its way of organizing and cataloging records. Rather than following the archival principle of provenance, reflecting the bureaucratic agencies that created records, the collection is organized by subject. By preserving the subject categories that interested an original group of users, the archive itself becomes a historical source on the role of Western readers and advocates in shaping our views of religious life in the Soviet Union.
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