Practical archiving in a time of covid

The closure of most academic libraries due to the Covid pandemic has put great emphasis on the provision of digital versions of texts for students and other researchers. As a practical response to this the Vestiges editors have been working to make available once again some of the pioneering initiatives in electronic publishing in anthropology which because of staff and hardware changes had become no longer available at their original addresses online. We note that many – but not all –  of these have been archived in the Internet Archive so are accessible via the Wayback Machine – however it turns out sometimes only the contents pages were archived so a headline search result saying a copy is accessible from the Wayback Machine can be miselading. We are also working to make available online some material important that has never been digitised such as the Abbia archive announced in Vestiges V. 5 (2019).

Other cases are the inclusion for the first time online of the material originally published on CD Rom in English and Italian by Tullia Magrini: ‘Teatro popolare in Emilia. Il Maggio drammatico’ and the revival of some key essays on anthropological multimedia by Marks Banks.

A summary URL for all these initiates is

The largest body of work that we have re-enabled comes from the Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing (CSAC) at the University of Kent. This was set up by John Davis and Mike Fischer at almost the same time as the World Wide Web was invented. Indeed CSAC had an internet presence before the WWW protocols were developed. It also published monographs on paper. Some of these texts were later made available online, but in part only.  In 2021 these are being made available on the Vestiges website with the support of Mike Fischer and, in some cases, the active collaboration of the surviving authors.


contains a full list of the CSAC monographs and other online publications. In its time CSAC also digitised some early, relatively obscure pieces to make them more available. These include (to name but a few examples) Victor Uzanne’s article “The end of books”, Gilbert Ryle’s original account of ‘thick description’ (as later used by Clifford Geertz) and Greg Acciaoli’s guide to reading Bourdieu.

As of April 2021 we have been able to make available complete versions of the early volumes (by scanning in some cases) and some of the later ones too, restoring from archive discs.

We hope that the restored access will be useful to a new generation of readers. We are working to enable access to other similar material from other sources than CSAC such as the early Visual Anthropology discussions from the “CVA Newsletter” (online Sept 2021). Some of these will become available on the Vestiges website over the coming months and years.

David Zeitlyn for the Vestiges editors

This article is copyright of the Author.  It is published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0 that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.

Ce(tte) œuvre est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution (4.0 International   qui permet à d'autres de partager le travail avec une reconnaissance de la paternité du travail et de la publication initiale dans ce journal.