Reflecting on the author’s role in establishing, cataloguing and interpreting the personal papers of Zygmunt Bauman, this article reflects on central questions related to working on and with the archives of public intellectuals. It addresses the role that intellectuals, and Bauman in particular, hold in contemporary ‘memory wars’, and the role that diverse forms and practices of archives play therein. It considers the difficulties posed by and possibilities afforded by the existence of archives, as well as biographical and autobiographical writings, for the interpretation of theoretical work. To this end, the article deploys a number of keywords – estrangement, loss, silence, secrets – which have framed the author’s encounter with the Bauman archive.
|Accepted/In press - 17 Nov 2023