Location:  Ecole Française d’Athènes, Greece


9.30-10:00    Informal welcome 

10:00-11:00    Fabio Giomi (CNRS, CETOBaC) and Lukas Posselt (EHESS and University of Lucerne), Introduction

11:00-12:00    Dimitra Lampropoulou (National & Kapodistrian University of Athens), Organizational banalities, associational memory, archival activism: tracing meanings of “association” within transmissions of associational documents

12:00-14:00    Lunch

14:00-15:00    Jörg Hackmann (University of Szczecin), Associational memory in Estonia – The rediscovery of voluntary associations after the Soviet period

15:00-16:00    Efi Avdela (University of Crete), Compiling traces, (re-)constructing archives: a database on Voluntary Associations in twentieth century Greece

16:00-16:30    Coffee break

16h30-17:30    Michele Mioni (University of Bremen), Reconstruct the story of the ‘Broken Faces’ in France: challenges and research perspectives from public and associational repositories 


October 22nd 

10:00-11:00    Ariane Mak (LARCA, Université de Paris), Oral history and associational archives. The case of the Bevin Boys Association(s)

11:00-12:00    Despo Kritsotaki (Independent researcher), A man’s or an association’s archive? The archive of the Greek psychiatrist Panayiotis Sakellaropoulos

12:00-14:00    Lunch

14:00-15:30    Final roundtable, chaired by Despo Kritsotaki (independent researcher)


Efi Avdela (University of Crete): Compiling traces, (re-)constructing archives: a database on Voluntary Associations in twentieth century Greece

My intervention will focus on the database on Voluntary Associations (http://www.public-sociality.uoc.gr/en/Associations.html) which was constructed in the context of the research project “Forms of public sociality in 20th-century urban Greece: associations, networks of social intervention and collective subjectivities” between 2012-2015. The database constitutes of around 9.500 associations created in twentieth-century urban Greece. The list is not exhaustive, but contains those encountered in the course of the research project. Also, the information available for each entry varies. Entries draw from a variety of sources: the archives of various Courts of the First Instance, state or private institutional archives, local General State Archives, personal archives and newspapers. Each entry aims to provide a documented profile of the relevant association including its statute, if available. However, whereas some data-forms are complete, others contain only the title of the association and the reference year. Some associations, the most well-known and long-lived, have left organized records. For others we only have a reference. Also, decisions that researchers had to make both at the information-gathering process and at the entering-data process influenced the final outcome.

I will present the logic of the database and I will focus on the variable information included in the data-forms and the blank spaces in several entries. I will argue that these differences testify of discrepancies in associational traces but also in operational handling of the existing data as well as in logistic restrictions imposed by the research project itself. As any form of archive, constructing a database entails choices and decisions at every step, that have consequences for future researchers. Constructing the database constituted a process of re-archiving, of creating a new archive in alternative form, that compiles, transcribes and interprets information on the voluntary associations drawn from various sources and transformed in new material form.

Dimitra Lampropoulou (National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, dimlamb@yahoo.gr ): Organizational banalities, associational memory, archival activism: tracing meanings of “association” within transmissions of associational documents

The Contemporary Social History Archives [ASKI], located in Athens, is an archival institution that aspires to be the leading Greek archival institution for the history of the country’s political and social movements. Founded in 1992 as a non-profit organization, ASKI [the acronym of the name in Greek] holds the most comprehensive collection of archives relating to the country’s social history of the 20th century, and is almost unfailingly engaged in public history projects and activities (publications, workshops and conferences, digitization of collections, oral history projects, radio programs, historical walking tours).

The consolidation of the Archives’ role in historical research in the course of the last three decades coincided with an increasing interest on behalf of past social actors to investigate and make known the historical events they participated in, as well as to deposit material they had been keeping in their own private records. ASKI proved to be an attractive place for those who wanted to bond the pieces of their own personal histories with the collective history of their time and were, or became, willing to pass down the material documents of their experience to future historical research. They were welcome by archivists that were not only diligent but also acknowledging of the value of personal records and creative in showcasing the archival wealth they were handling. The reading room of the Archives became a place of encounter and exchange between donors, archivists, and historians.

The result was a remarkable augmentation of the archival material that is held at the ASKI repository, a good part of which is related to associational activities stemming mainly from the civil and social rights movements, the youth movements and the labour movement, especially of the post-war period. The archival traces of associational activity are scattered in several parts of the archive and different kinds of material: some are sections of larger archival bodies, others constitute small autonomous fonds, quite a few are no more than single documents in otherwise unrelated files.

The purpose of my intervention is to explore how “association” becomes an archival object depending on the kind and the strategies of the repository, and through consecutive practices of transmission: keeping, donating, preserving, archiving, and researching. Associational experience is important and may also be exciting, but a large part of its written record consists of banalities and dull repetitions. When and why do people feel the need to keep this written record? What urges them to reevaluate it as an object worthy of public attention and study? How could a comparison between personal associational collections and associational archives held within more formal bodies of material help us grasp the “associational event”? In what ways does the practice of receiving, storing, cataloguing, describing, arranging, linking documents to different archival sections transform the meaning that “association” acquires? Through these questions I wish to integrate the donor, the archivist and the historian in a common, although diversified, endeavor of historicizing “voluntary association” and “associational experience”. Apart from studying the archival material from this angle, this goal could be achieved through oral history interviews that would give the chance to compare different gazes on and uses of the same or similar material.

Despo Kritsotaki (independent researcher, despo.kritsotaki@gmail.com ), “A man’s or an association’s archive? The archive of the Greek psychiatrist Panayiotis Sakellaropoulos”

My presentation concentrates on the archive of the Greek psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Panayotis Sakellaropoulos (1926-2018), an eminent figure of Greek psychiatry and mental healthcare reform. In 1981 he founded the Association for Social Psychiatry and Mental Health (henceforth Association), a private, voluntary, non-profit scientific organisation that provides mental healthcare services in different parts of Greece. The Association has a large archive, while Sakellaropoulos had also kept his own personal archive, which is under the jurisdiction of the Association and is hosted in the Institute for the Mental Health of Children and Adults, a non-profit organisation also founded by Sakellaropoulos in 1996.

The archive contains approximately 100 folders, some rather big, some smaller, with a variety of documents, produced and/or collected by Sakellaropoulos, who chose what was worthy of keeping. Indicatively, there is material about Sakellaropoulos’ education and career; his clinical work; private and official correspondence; psychiatric reform in Greece; contacts with officials of the Greek state and the European Economic Community; different associations (not only the Association, but also others, mainly the Greek Psychoanalytical Society). Sakellaropoulos included lists of songs, personal letters and his son’s drawings along with scientific texts, official reports, applications for funding and informative leaflets.

Therefore, this archive brings together the personal, professional, and associational. It is indicative that Sakellaropoulos’ widow – who is today the president of the Association – decided to keep the archive not at her home, but in a professional space, and to place it under the Association’s control, although the archive is related to the Association only partially. This was because Sakellaropoulos’ private and professional life have been so closely interwoven with the Association that is hard to separate one from the other. My presentation explores this entanglement between the personal and the associational. It examines how individual and associational features coexist and intertwine within a personal archive and, in extension, how personal and collective aspects of the associational activity intersect and blend or clash.

Michele Mioni (University of Bremen, michele.mioni@uni-bremen.de ) Reconstruct the Story of the ‘Broken Faces’ in France: Challenges and Research Perspectives from Public and Associational Repositories

My contribution uses the documentation concerning the Union des blessés de la face et de la tête (UBFT) as a spotlight of the challenges and scientific outlooks of the research on associational archives and sources.

The UBFT was founded in 1921 and gathered the facially disfigured soldiers (‘broken faces’) of the Great War. It pursued a threefold objective: raising public awareness about the conditions of the facially disfigured; advancing their care; lobbying for their inclusion within the public pension scheme. The action of the UBFT thus connected public and private sectors, and left significant traces. First, the associational activity is documented by its bulletins and the photographic records of public banquets, gala evenings, and other public events. Secondly, the UBFT’s ties with the specialist surgical corps, healthcare business, and private philanthropy open perspectives that include medical sources. Last, this association’s plea with public authorities left its marks also in the public record offices, e.g., in the archives of the departments charged with pensions for war veterans. This activity is thus placed within the ‘mixed economy’, which is reflected by a fragmented documentation that encompasses political, social and cultural history; warfare-to-welfare theories; medical, surgical and rehabilitative research.

This contribution will use these multifaceted features of the UBFT to discuss methodologic and interpretive aspects of historical research. The first issue concerns the methods of the archival investigation, including the new opportunities offered by online repositories and how these allow to circumvent the difficulties in getting access to physical archives. Medical photographic documentation, for instance, has been digitised by the Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de Santé of Paris IV. While online access simplifies research (especially in pandemic times), it nonetheless offers partial information that may be integrated with ‘old-fashioned’ archival investigation. On the other hand, the primary sources on the UBFT’s administrative life are opaquer. Obtaining access to the documentary centre of the (still active) association has proven to be impossible, and a more thorough account of this association may be transversally retraced by crossing information from research libraries (notably, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine) and public record offices such as the Archive du Service de Santé de l’Armée, the Service Historique de la Défense, and the Archives Nationales (through the files concerning the Ministère des pensions, primes et allocations de guerre). But along with methodological challenges, the case with the scattered documentation concerning the ‘broken faces’ favours a multidisciplinary research that embraces the material and body turn of the sources, as with the many medical sources that include photographic albums, records, prosthetic masks, nursing homes in the countryside. These sources, moreover, open research avenues connected with the transfer of expertise concerning the care for the veterans in interwar Europe, and how this impacted in the overall development of medical practices.

Hence, my proposed contribution addresses the issues of associational archives and sources in two respects. On the one hand, it stresses the methodological and practical challenges that constitute the ‘trees’ that hide the associational forest, and that not rarely may be connected to the self-representation and self-narrative of the associations themselves. On the other, it emphasises the multidisciplinary and multimedia features of the sources, as well as their material variety and possible transnational research perspectives.

Ariane Mak, (lecturer in British History, LARCA – UMR 8225, Université de Paris, arianemak.t@gmail.com ): Oral History and Associational Archives. The case of the Bevin Boys Association(s)

Bevin Boys were young British conscripts drawn by ballot and sent down the mines during the Second World War. They were named after Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour and National Service who implemented the scheme (1943-1948) in an attempt to put an end to the manpower crisis in the coalmining industry. Sending young conscripts from all social backgrounds to the mines was once called “the greatest British social experiment”. Yet, the Bevin Boys have long been neglected by historiography on the grounds that they actually had little impact on wartime coal production. The Bevin Boys Association was created in 1989 to dispel the common misconception that Bevin Boys were conscientious objectors and fight for the role they played in the war effort to be fully recognized.

One of this paper’s aims is to highlight the extent to which interviews and fieldwork may contribute to shedding light on the construction and journeys of associational archives. It draws on a wide range of sources, including a dozen oral history interviews conducted with members of the association, as well as on observations made during four events organized by the Bevin Boys Association.

The documents and testimonies collected by the Bevin Boys Association over the years are all the more important to historians given that part of the scheme’s official records have been destroyed. The talk will examine the broad spectrum of associational archives involved (from papers, photographs and newsletters kept by former Bevin Boys and shared during oral history interviews, to the numerous boxes of material donated by the association to the Imperial War Museum) and interrogate the impact of the Association’s priorities and members’ profiles on the type of archives it collected and their blind spots.

Furthermore, the talk addresses the impact of internal and interpersonal conflicts on associational archives. This issue will be explored through the tensions created by the introduction of a second competing association devoted to the Bevin Boys’ legacy, thus leading to debates over which of these could be considered “the official” association. In this battle for legitimacy and visibility, the digitization of archives played an important role. These tensions also led to the temporary loss of two prized archives. Their “disappearance”, rediscovery and circulation through several repositories will be traced.

Jörg Hackmann (jorg.hackmann@usz.edu.pl, University of Szczecin) Associational memory in Estonia – The rediscovery of voluntary associations after the Soviet period

The Baltic nations that came under Soviet occupation in 1940 experienced a severe blow to voluntary associations and their social activities – all of them (with only very few exceptions) were dissolved and their premises used for other purposes. With the general politics of restituting pre-war political and social order since the lat 1980s, the traditions of voluntary associations were rediscovered and then widely remembered in the public sphere, and partly also revived. These processes were not least supported by the fact that the archives and publications of the voluntary associations had made their way into state archives and libraries due to the disruptions of Soviet occupation. There are some specific trends in this associational revival, mainly a focus on learned societies and cultural associations, and a nationalization of remembrance. In addition, the focus on the traditions of voluntary associations has been connected to a boarder debate on the impact of associations on the building of civil society.ed.