PhD Masterclass: Prof. John Tosh

The next doctoral masterclass will be presented by Professor John Tosh, on The archive: old and new thinking about its status, at 6pm on Tuesday 7 March, the Dreyfus Room, 28 Russell Square.

In this workshop, Professor Tosh asks, does the archive enable our research or constrict it? Are the records of government a neutral objective record of bureaucratic procedure or a sinister instrument of power? In recent years the archive has become the subject of unprecedented critique. Professor Tosh will set the scene by recalling the innocence which characterised the huge effort invested in archival research in the 19th century. 20th-century scholars expanded the definition of the archive to encompass a plurality of local and informal records. Recently historians have become particularly attuned to the significance of what is not in the archive, on account of loss, destruction or concealment. Colonial societies starkly demonstrate that the archive is not only a record of government, but an instrument of government, entrenching stereotypes of both the governed and the governors.

If you plan to attend, please drop an email to

This one of a series of doctoral masterclasses for Birkbeck’s HCA students. For the full programme, see:

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