Congress on Archives, History and Memory

Archives, History, and Memory from the Age of Revolution until the First World War

International congress

Lisbon, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, 7 and 8 April 2020

Keynote speakers pdf

Organisers: Instituto de História Contemporânea (IHC, NOVA FCSH), in partnership with the Instituto de Estudos Medievais (IEM, NOVA FCSH) and the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (ANTT)

Context Dates Publication
Objectives Languages Organisation
Sections Registration Papers
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Historical context

The long nineteenth century witnessed four major historical processes of the utmost significance: the modernisation of the state, nation-state building, the independence of the American colonies from Europe, and the colonisation of the African and Asian continents. The modernizing of the state entailed its growth and bearing on the economy and society, the widening of the state’s role, the “bureaucratization” of its administrative apparatus, and protracted democratisation. Along came the reduction or removal of competing powers, namely the church and aristocracy. The state also became a vehicle for the enshrinement of private property, free enterprise and, increasingly, the freedom of association among citizens. In addition, the modernised state would favour and support nation-state building in a number of ways.

All of this gave rise to a fresh backdrop for information and archives, around which the conservation of administrative proof and the narrative of national history would be structured. Transformations were not confined to the European metropolises, rather these served as a model also for the former colonial territories in the Americas. In the now-independent states, these processes were challenged with integrating diverse peoples and the very different social backgrounds of their inhabitants.Regardless, in the metropolises and the former colonies alike, large sectors of the population escaped state networks and were reflected but dimly in the documentation that the state produced.

Objectives and geographical and time spans

The aim of this congress is to bring forward debate on these processes by calling up scientific areas within history which, due to their recent development — namely the history of archives and information — are yet to be fully taken on board. At the same time, this congress seeks to make sense of the contributions from other social and human sciences, amongst which the new fields of archival and information science. The congress is part of the Instituto de História Contemporânea’s agenda for the bicentennial of the Portuguese liberal revolution of 1820 which represented an important turning point in relation to the processes mentioned above, regarding Portugal and its colonies. However, the meeting sets out to analyze a long time frame, spanning from the end of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century, considering the different rhythms of the processes of institutional development, in Portugal and its empire as much as in other European states and their colonial spaces.

Sections, issues for analysis and topics suggested

Section I — Modernisation of the state and a new setting for information and archives

How did the introduction of national archives reconfigure the production and conservation of information in the European metropolises, and how did this link to the transformation (in some cases the extinction) of strong archive-producing organisations?

Topics: from crown archives to national archives; central archives and peripheral administration archives; municipal archives; church archives; the archives of private companies; confraternities, misericórdias and associations; the archives of families and of noble households.

Section II — Archiving the empire

How did colonial archives serve the governmental purposes of metropolitan administration and how did they relate with the keeping of evidence and the memory of local populations? How were the historical archives of the old imperial territories reconfigured and what happened to their holdings?

Topics: the archives of the new states in the Americas; colonial archives.-history-and-memory

Section III — Processing the past: archivists and historians in defining boundaries

How did the profession, training and knowledge of the archivist evolve? What role did historians play in creating the new landscape in archives and information? In which ways did historians relate to archives, and how important was archival documentation for the emerging of history as science?

Topics: transformations in archivistics and the profession of the archivist; interpreters of the past: historical writing and archival documents.

Section IV — Beyond the archive

How to document subaltern and excluded groups poorly represented or even absent from state archives, despite the liberal state’s rhetoric of inclusion and equality?

Topics: documenting the subaltern and the excluded; orality and tradition as forms of evidence and memory.

Section V — Round table: the past’s future

Looking at the future from a deeper and plural knowledge of the past, this round table will include different specialists in archival policy. It will aimat reviewing the state of the art, accounting for new concepts and practices in this field, as well as the current needs and challenges.


Submission of proposals for papers:  until 22 November 2019

Notification of acceptance: no later than 20 December 2019

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Portuguese, English, Spanish or French.


Registration is free, but participants must fill in the form available in the congress website in due time.

Publication of papers

Following the congress, authors will be invited to submit full papers for publication in an e-book after positive assessment by anonymous peer-review.


Organising committee

Maria João da Câmara (CHAM, NOVA FCSH), José Maria Furtado (ANTT), Joana Paulino (IHC, NOVA FCSH), Maria de Lurdes Rosa (IEM, NOVA FCSH), Luís Nuno Espinha da Silveira (IHC, NOVA FCSH).

Scientific committee

Ana Canas (ULisboa/FL), Paula Godinho (NOVA FCSH), Silvestre Lacerda (ANTT), Sérgio Campos Matos (ULisboa/FL), Paula Ochoa (NOVA FCSH), José Pedro Paiva (UCoimbra/FL), Ricardo Roque (ULisboa/ICS), Maria de Lurdes Rosa (NOVA FCSH), Carlos Guardado da Silva (ULisboa/FL), Luís Nuno Espinha da Silveira (NOVA FCSH), António Sousa (ArqDistrital Braga), José Subtil (UAutónoma Lisboa), Luís Reis Torgal (UCoimbra/FL), Irene Vaquinhas (UCoimbra/FL)


Call for papers  pdf

Paper proposal submission

Deadline for proposal submission expired