Voicing Hidden Stories: New Approaches to the Local and Global History of the Book
Abstract: Since 2015, Mellon’s Public Knowledge program has provided generous support to a collaboration of the Old Books New Science Lab at the University of Toronto and University of Toronto Libraries. In 2019 the collaboration widened to include the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (IAS). At this Convivium we look forward to introducing our newest project, Hidden Stories: New Approaches to the Local and Global History of the Book (2022–2026), including how it developed in collaboration with origin communities and where it’s going.
The goal of Hidden Stories is to learn about books - to do good, culturally responsible, community-guided work that shapes an understanding of ‘the book’ as a culturally embedded object with a web of relations and hidden stories to tell - human and non-human, local and global - instead of a passive object of analysis. Our methodology, which we bring to the study of books from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, is interdisciplinary and brings together scientists, humanities scholars, and traditional knowledge keepers (sometimes one and the same) to create a robust community-based research network. The approach is relational and underpinned by a desire to decenter eurocentric paradigms and leverage institutional resources in the service of reconnecting local and global communities of origin with the book objects (often understood as their ‘relations’) that are currently housed in libraries, archives, and museums.
At this Convivium our team will discuss the interdisciplinary nature of our project and methodology underpinning our work; our areas of activity across the four years of our work; and what we hope this may mean for UofT and our broader communities.