ABSTRACT

Human rights are intricately tied to the practice of archivists, and the imperative to address the silence of the archive has been discussed in archival scholarship. After examining the evolution of archival intervention in arts (films, novels, plays, etc.), this article analyses the narrative components of two novels—W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz (2001) and Valeria Luiselli's Lost Children Archive (2019)—and demonstrates that certain works of autofiction are uniquely fit to become “imagined records.” Through the lens of “archival reading,” the article reveals these novels' narrative traits, such as their tendency to rely heavily on photographs, maps, and other iconography; their use of a specific type of narrator; and their intention to supplement the silence of the archive, the characteristics that facilitate the construction of imagined records. By delineating the ways in which these traits were implemented in the creation of an imagined record, the article paves a way for more imagined records to come in the future. Rooted in real sociohistorical traumas, these two novels expand the notions of evidence and the forces that shape archival theory and practice.

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