Collective residences


From Tuesday, 23 April 2019 to Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Lecturer, Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies


James Lowry is a lecturer at the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies. He has worked extensively in public sector information management, with a focus on open government data and records management systems. He is currently collaborating on the Refugee Rights in Records project, which aims to identify and make visible ways in which official records, bureaucratic practices and other more “irregular” forms and uses of records play crucial roles in the lives of displaced people. His recent publications include Displaced Archives, an edited collection published by Routledge in 2017, and Integrity in Government through Records Management, which he edited with Justus Wamukoya, published by Ashgate in 2014. James is Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Archivists and Records Managers, Secretary to the International Council on Archives Africa Programme, a trustee of the International Records Management Trust and series editor for Routledge Studies in Archives.


During my residency at Faber, I’m going to be thinking through issues of documentation in the transnational movement of people, particularly the uncommon types of official records that are used in exigency, such as the laissez-passer. Such documents are official attempts to respond to and regulate the messiness of the real world, but they illustrate the contingent and malleable nature of documentary and juridical regimes that are often presented as being immutable. This work is part of the Refugee Rights in Records project that I’m working on with principal investigator Prof. Anne Gilliland and others.

Documenting Bodies in Motion

At 10pm on 26 April 2019, I walked into the crater of Volca Montsacopa to see Kukai Dantza perform a dance whose ritualistic choreography brought to my mind Abraham Bosse’s frontispiece for Thomas Hobbes’Leviathan, with its social body composed of physical bodies. I was in Olot, Catalonia for a Faber residency on archivistics, and I was thinking a lot about how that connection between the physical and social depended on documentation. At this residency, I spent time working on an article about the laissez-passer document type, which is used to facilitate the international movement of those who are not easily classified by national documentary regimes. These may be staff of international organisations, those without documentation, even dead bodies. The laissez-passer is a jumping off point for thinking about the contingent nature of the relationship between jurisdictions and their documentation requirements, and juridical and physical persons, an issue surfaced by the Refugee Rights in Records project. The generous hospitality of the Faber residency gave me space to focus on this work. Faber gave me and other residents rooms and space to work in Olot, with views of volcanic mountains, fields of canola flowers and occasional hot air balloons. When the residents gathered at (delicious) dinners to discuss our projects, I learnt about records work in different contexts, from archival education in Brazil to community archiving in New York to information policy in China. My time in Catalonia was enriching and productive and I’m grateful to Associació d’Arxivers-Gestors de Documents de Catalunya for working with Faber to support research in the archival field. 

Notícies, articles i activitats

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