National Archive

By July 5, 2016Blog

The scorched remains cover the corridors of one of Bosnia’s most important historical archives. Surviving two world wars and the siege of of Sarajevo in the 1990s – they were destroyed by an accidental bombing in an afternoon of rioting during anti-government protests. The majority of the material remains non digitized, due to luck of personnel and funds, risking its disappearance.

The problem with physical archiving being situated in a single location is that is has the potential to be completely destroyed. Historically we have witnessed numerous occasions where invading forces have destroyed the archives of the people they have invaded. Then there are other factors, such as natural and social phenomena. Two such examples of this are the Ars Electronica archive, which was nearly entirely damaged during the Austrian floods of 2013 and the Bosnian city archive, which was accidentally firebombed during civil unrest in 2014, causing it to lose a significant portion of the archive, which was already suffering still in the wake of the Bosnian wars. During these wars, possibly the largest book burning in modern history occurred.

While decentralization thus far has been discussed in a rather positive light, it’s disruptive/dislocated nature can also be problematic, in regards to situations such as migration/refugees/war, political unrest, secular issues and so forth. The problem with these forms of decentralization is that they always have a figure head, or power hierarchy and thus are constructed accordingly, as is in fact, the case with archives.