The temple of history: historians and the sacralisation of archival work

Mike Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Archives have long been considered central to the work of historians, from nineteenth-century Europe to contemporary Australian practice. Rarely remarked upon is the recurring tendency for some historians to sacralise the process of archival research through the use of religious (usually Christian) symbolism, including temples and churches, sacred relics, pilgrimages, resurrection, rituals and communion. The cumulative effect of this language is to conceal archival labour, privilege the agency and authority of the historian, and undermine many of the public, social and methodological developments otherwise championed by the history discipline in recent decades. This article explores evocations of the ‘temple of history’ in Australia, placing these examples in the context of longer European and American traditions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)676-693
    Number of pages18
    JournalHistory Australia
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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