Archives and Archival Methods SIG


Convenors:  Llewella Chapman (University of East Anglia), James Fenwick (Sheffield Hallam University), Matt Melia (Kingston University)

List of founding members


Archival research is a cornerstone of a growing amount of academic work in film, television,  media, and screen studies, both historical studies and practice-based research, while the acquisition and depositing of new archival collections continues apace at university institutions, libraries, and museums. This SIG aims to bring together researchers, archivists, and practitioners to discuss archival methods, collections, preservation, cataloguing, education, and insights. The SIG encompasses a range of theoretical approaches to the use of archives, with the aim of furthering, promoting, and discussing film, television and media archives and archival research (of all forms) across disciplines. A key aim will be to establish an initial SIG meeting to debate the current state of archival methods in film, television, media, and screen studies.

The ‘archival turn’ within film, television, and media studies has led to an explosion of research outputs that are archive based or utilise archives in some way to reframe understanding of historical processes, figures, and organisations. But archives are not stable repositories of information: they grow, evolve, are reshaped and recontextualised, forgotten, rediscovered, and die. Archives are powerful, contested sites of historical knowledge, memory, and experience. They can both marginalise the voices and experiences of figures and texts, as well as foreground agency, the forgotten, and the overlooked. They can reframe the historical canon of film and media, deconstruct myths, and lead to new insights and discoveries. They often contain forgotten, unmade, unseen, and unreleased films and scripts, or histories of wide-ranging subjects beyond film and media studies. They can be incomplete, confusing, and frustrating, containing absences and gaps. They can be sites in urgent need of preservation. And they are often the site of hidden labour, both in the histories of media labourers they may contain, or the ongoing administrative and specialist archival labour needed to catalogue, maintain, and understand them. Archives can be comprised of written documents, visual and / or audio-visual objects, artefacts, and other objects (props, books etc.), or can be digital in nature. Digital archives themselves represent a particular challenge, with some archival data contained on dead or dying media (floppy disks, for example).

The SIG is not constrained by any one particular approach, theory, or idea, but is rather a forum for collegial debate about the use, value, limitations, and dangers of archives and archival research. Research interests include:


  • Archive methods

  • Archive ethics

  • Archive access/data protection

  • Archives and education

  • Archives and exhibitions

  • Archives and public engagement

  • Broadcast archives

  • Television archives

  • Media technology and hardware

  • Unmade, unreleased, and unseen, forgotten films and television

  • Non-institutional archives

  • Amateur archives / archiving & self-archiving / collector’s archives

  • The archive itself the subject of research: self-reflexive accounts and histories of archives

  • Archives and materiality

  • Marginalised, forgotten, and overlooked figures, communities, and texts in the archive

  • Hidden archives

  • Digital archives

  • Acquisition, cataloguing, preservation, and promotion

  • Archival footage, orphan footage and practice based-research

  • Written archives

  • Visual archives

  • Archival absences

  • Archival futures

The purpose and aims of the Archives and Archival Research SIG include:


  • Develop a collegial forum to encourage collaboration and networking, bringing together researchers (established, ECR, and postgraduate) and archivists across disciplines and approaches (theory, history, practice, archivist).

  • Facilitate discussions and conversations about archives, archival methods, and archival collections with the aim of initiating blogs, podcasts, roundtables, conferences, workshops, publications, and research proposals.

  • To explore strategies for the use, dissemination, education and public engagement with archives and archive research, as well as pedagogical approaches to the use and engagement with archives.

  • Become a space for the representation and voice of the UK based film and media archival community.