10 Jan

Geographical Review Preview: Trajectories of Personal Archiving: Practical and Ethical Considerations

By: Gregory Knapp

Article Title, Issue and Volume:
Trajectories of Personal Archiving: Practical and Ethical Considerations, in Special Issue:  Integrating Research Methods in 21st Century Geography edited by Kendra McSweeney and Antoinette WinklerPrins. 2020, Volume 110, issue 1.

What is the main purpose of your study?
To identify some of the challenges involved in finding, preserving, and making available unusual field data resources and to identify some practical and ethical solutions.

What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
The study should help scholars be better prepared for finding and managing surprising and unorthodox data including photographs, maps, and record books.

How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
Geographers have written about their personal archives, and about retirement, but few have directly addressed issues of caring for and preserving their personal archives.

What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
Based on my experience, geographers need to be more aware of the role of luck and chance in finding research resources. They also need to be more pro active to find truly permanent repositories for their personal archives, not solely relying on digital archiving or the attentiveness of their research institutions.

What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
The study is most supportive of pluralistic theoretical approaches (such as multiple working hypotheses, grounded theory, curiosity-driven research, and progressive contextualization).

How does your research help us think about Geography?

It emphasizes that geography is the study of the interaction of otherwise unrelated systems, involving unpredictability and surprise.  Fieldwork is thus always necessary to identify new relationships and data sources.

This is from my personal archive of scanned slides; it shows the snowpack on Ecuador’s highest mountain, Chimborazo and traditional farm technology 40 years ago.

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Click here to read the abstract of this article.