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Anxieties and Excitements of Archival Work: Some Considerations 

Speaker: Aurora Sturli (Cambridge)
Chair: Claire Griffiths (Chester)
Respondent: Naomi Wells (ILCS)

This presentation focuses on the procedures involved in preparing for fieldwork, such as identifying archives and institutions where relevant material is held, and on the expected or unexpected challenges that arise during the time spent doing research. These include uneasiness due to solo-travelling, extreme weather events connected to climate change, and limited availability of archives due to reduced opening times and staff shortages. Drawing on these experiences of archival work in Italy in July 2023, the speaker reflects upon the personal and professional rewards that archival work can offer to researchers.

Aurora Sturli
is a second-year PhD candidate in Italian Studies at Cambridge University. She is working on women writers in post-Unification Italy, with a focus on their contemporary and later reception. Her project investigates potential correlations between women writers’ editorial strategies and their future destinies of recognition and oblivion in the Italian and international context. She completed her Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Italian Studies at the University of Bologna.

The focus of the Behind-the-Scenes seminar series is an exploration of the processes we engage with on the journey towards producing the published research output, covering all the stages involved in fieldwork in geographical, virtual or un-sited fields. From the aspirations and expectations that precede fieldwork, through the messy and unpredictable circumstances of conducting the research, the scope of the series is wide and includes research design; funding; logistical preparations for engaging in fieldwork, dealing with unexpected challenges; the emotional impacts of the work, the multiple rewards of fieldwork collaborations, methods for analysing, cataloguing, and storing information during fieldwork, along with information retrieval from fieldwork. And in the aftermath of fieldwork, the series covers how we engage with the tortuous process of selecting what goes into the final polished output, which invariably includes excising valuable insights accumulated during fieldwork in the process. Behind-the-Scenes is a space where we can look at all those facets of fieldwork, including those which often remain unexplored and unspoken.

Seminar Series

Wed 15 Nov 2023:
From border to border: volunteering, photo-voicing, listening, and here we go again! 
Wed 6 Dec 2023:
Anxieties and Excitements of Archival Work: Some Considerations 
Wed 31 Jan 2024:
Collaboration is a two-way road, or regarding ethnographic work with antagonistic institutions
Wed 7 Feb 2024:
Fieldwork with Indigenous Amazigh Communities
Fri 23 Feb 2024 (practical - hands on session):
Practical approaches to using participatory photography in research
Wed 13 March 2024:
Researching Undocumented Women in Transit. Challenges and Strategies of Fieldwork on the Mexican Border
Wed 24 April 2024:
The sound of amateur cinema: collections, oral history, experimentation workshops

All are welcome to attend this free seminar series. You will need to register in advance for each session to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register for the seminar taking place on Wed 6 Dec 2023.