archive A term
chiefly derived from Michel Foucault (1926-84) and identified by him in The
Archaeology of Knowledge (1972 ) as 'the general system of the formation
and transformation of statements (1972: 130). So defined, the archive
is not simply a corpus but a level of practice, different from a tradition or
a library of statements, which 'enables statements both to survive and to undergo
regular modification' (1972: 130). The system of rules governing this process
defines the 'discursive practices' and 'discursive formation' characterizing
an era, or episteme, and this in turn is
what distinguishes it from past and present eras.
The archive is an integral part of Foucault's 'archaeological' method, a practice employed in his own work in the study of reason and mental illness (Madness and Civilisation, 1967), medical understanding (The Birth of the Clinic, 1973) and the formation of the human sciences (The Order of Things, 1970). His later work was more concerned with relations of discourse, power and knowledge and employed a 'genealogical' analysis to that end.
See also archaeology; genealogy. [from: Brooker, 1999]