Workshop 3 – 2022

Interrogating the city from document to archive

  • Coordinators:
    • Vanessa CARU (Historian, Codirector of CEIAS, CNRS-EHESS, Paris)
    • Zoé HEADLEY (Anthropologist, Codirector of CEIAS, CNRS-EHESS, Paris)
  • Invited tutors:
    • Delphine ORTIS (Anthropologist, associated researcher, CEIAS, CNRS-EHESS, Paris)
    • Ali SAMOO (Historian, Karachi Urban Lab, Karachi)
    • Aaliyah TAYYABI (Anthropologist, Senior Project Manager, The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, Karachi)


The objective of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the history of archival practices, the changing status of official documentation within different institutional frameworks and national agendas over time in South Asia, to the existence of private and sometimes invisible archives as well as providing a hands-on approach to the tools, methodologies, issues and ethics at play in the digital turn of the 21st century.

The workshop participants will be introduced to several archives in Karachi (such as the Sindh Archives, the Citizen Archive of Pakistan, Karachi Municipal Corporation archives, Karachi Port Trust archives, etc.). In particular, a visit will be organized to the Sindh Archives, in order to familiarize participants with the materiality of the records and with the different reference tools available for conducting archival research. Through a variety of case studies, recent archival initiatives across South Asia, ranging from oral history to photography, from small family collections to large-scale digitization at a regional level., will also be presented by historians and anthropologists.

Though on a topical level, the workshop will interrogate a variety of media and data, the participants will be encouraged to develop a critical gaze and build a practical engagement with the possibilities and limitations as well as the practicalities and methodologies of interrogating the city, here Karachi, through its many archives.

 W3 Schedule


9:30-10:00 Roundtable (trainers and participants)

Introduction to and objectives of the workshop

10:00-11:15 Introduction 1/3

General definitions & overview of the archives

11:15-11:30 Coffee/tea break
11:30-13:00 Introduction 2/3

General definitions & overview of the archives

13:00-14:00 Lunch break
14:00-17:30 Visit to Sindh Archives in Clifton


9:30-11:15 Debrief of the visit

Introduction 3/3

Methodology (historical methodology – digital turn)

11:15-11:30 Coffee/tea break
11:30-13:00 Case Studies 1/3

Presentation of the methodological objectives of the case studies

Zoé Headley: Invisible Archives. The case of Tamil Studio Photography

Aaliyah Tayyabi: Archiving Oral Testimonies in Karachi

13:00-14:00 Lunch break
14:00-15:45 Case Studies 2/3

Delphine Ortis: The anthropologist’s archive or the use of photography to document the effects of dargāh nationalization (Sehwan Sharif)

Ali Samoo: Encountering Karachi Climate with/at the Archive

15:45-16:00 Coffee/tea break
16:00-17:30 Presentation by selected students





Case Studies 3/3

Newal Osman: Forthcoming

Vanessa Caru: How to write a social history of technology: from official to family archives

11:15-11:30 Coffee/tea break
11:30-13:00 From methodology to case studies: general discussion
13:00-14:00 Lunch break
14:00-15:45 Group work: preparation of knowledge/project restitution supervised
15:45-16:00 Coffee/tea break
16:00-17:30 Group work continues


9:30-11:15 Group work continues
11:15-11:30 Coffee/tea break
11:30-13:00 Group work continues
13:00-14:00 Lunch break
14:00-16:00 Plenary group presentation by trainees
16:00-16:30 Coffee/tea break
16:30-18:00 Valedictory Address

Feedback from resource persons, students and trainers

Delivery of certificates







Readings and online resources

Guides to the archival resources

A. Low and alii, Government Archives in South Asia. A guide to national and state archives in Ceylon, India and Pakistan, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Sheikh A.Z., Guide to the sources of Asian History: Pakistan, Islamabad, National Archives of Pakistan, 1990.

Moir Z. and Moir M., “Old District Records in Pakistan,” Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 24, N°1, 1990, p. 195-204.

Moir M., A General Guide to the India Office Records , London, The British Library, 1988.

Moir M., Preserving Pakistan’s Past: Notes on Archival Resources and Management, Sindh University Press, Hyderabad, 2002.

Haider S. J. , “Archives in Pakistan”, Journal of Archival Organization, Vol. 2, N°4, 2004, p. 29-52.

Debates about archives’ restitution

Livsey T., “Open secrets: the British ‘migrated archives’, colonial history, and postcolonial history”, History Workshop Journal, Volume 93, Issue 1, Spring 2022, p. 95–116.

Reading colonial archives

Guha R., “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency”, in R. Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies II, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1983, pp. 1-42.

Stoler Ann-Laura, Along the Archival Grain. Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2009.

Oral history

Perks R. and Thomson A. (ed.), The Oral History Reader, London, Routledge, 2016 (3rd edition).

Bergen T., Transcribing Oral History, London, Routledge, 2019.

Butalia U., The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India, Durham, Duke University Press, 2000.

Raychaudhuri A., Narrating South Asian Partition: Oral History, Literature, Cinema, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019.

Menon M. and Adarkar N., One hundred years, one hundred voices. The millworkers of Girangaon: an oral history, New Delhi, Seagull, 2004.

History of photography in South Asia

Edwards E., The camera as historian: amateur photographers and historical imagination,
, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2012.

Freitag, S. B., “The Visual Turn: Approaching South Asia across the Disciplines”, South Asia:
Journal of South Asian Studies
, 37(3), 2014, p. 398–409.

Kapur G., Gadihoke S. and Pinney C., Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography From India, Pakistan & Bangladesh, Steidl, 2010.

Pinney C., The Coming of Photography in India, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2008.

Family history

Evans T., Family History, Historical Consciousness and Citizenship. A New Social History, Bloomsbury, London, 2022.

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