History and Archives: Colleagues or Strangers?
By redefining the concept of history, my colleagues and I have reformed our department in terms of curriculum and faculty members. This paper is a report of some of the conclusions that we have obtained from this procedure. Despite a long relationship, two disciplines do not seem to match or complement each other in the Korean education system.
We believe that this is due to the fact that the Department of Korean History has focused on “national history (NH).” By conferring a privilege on NH, persons, families, societies, regions, and others were removed from NH. To make matters worse, a biased view that history is just an interpretation has prevailed, and the empiricism of history was weakened, which brought about an indifference in keeping records and archives.
In East Asia, “history” means both modern history and archives. The concern about the authenticity of records did not come from H. Jenkinson or L. Duranti, and not even from the electronic environment or the Public Records Act of 1998. Key concepts such as records, documents-archives, manuscripts, authenticity, compilation-appraisal, arrangement, and description are different from their signifiant but are same or similar to their signifié. In case of “provenance” and “original order,” they are used in education and practice in the traditional archives.
History includes the recording, archiving, and the story or historiography of an event. In this context, the Department of Korean History should contain a more archives-oriented curriculum and select an archival-trained faculty. On the other hand, the department has accumulated long-term experience with appraisal and description of records; thus, archival science should absorb the criticism of the material.
History will be shaken without the help of archives, while archives will lose their root without history. We are at the point in which we need to be reminded why we want to be a historian or an archivist, and for this, the more colleagues, the better.