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University of the Arts London

Archiving critically: exploring the communication of cultural biases


In public perception, and professional practice, archives are often perceived as neutral spaces which hold the ‘truth’ about a society or happening. However, the practices of archival work not only allow, but can actively encourage, an archivist or institution to reflect upon personal and cultural attitudes and experiences. This permits the conveyance of cultural biases, which can further occur through the use of the archive in pedagogical practice. This article seeks to consider the bias of the archive, and to present pedagogy as a solution rather than a symptom.


archives, learning, decanonisation, archival bias, pedagogy, collections


Author Biography

Hannah Grout

Hannah Grout is an Assistant Archivist at the Archives and Special Collections Centre at the University of the Arts London. Hannah gained her Master’s degree in archive studies from the University of Glasgow in 2017, with her final dissertation exploring themes of the archive as fiction and the textuality of history. Her professional archival practice has been based in the arts and heritage sector, as well as higher education institutions. Hannah co-presented a paper entitled ‘Archivist or Author: Professional interpretation of the archive’ at the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities (DCDC) annual conference in 2018.


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