archive A term chiefly derived from Michel Foucault (1926-84) and identified by him in The Archaeology of Knowledge (1972 [1969]) as 'the general system of the formation and transformation of statements’ (1972: 130). So defined, the archive is not simply a corpus but a level of practice, different from a tradition or a library of statements, which 'enables statements both to survive and to undergo regular modification' (1972: 130). The system of rules governing this process defines the 'discursive practices' and 'discursive formation' characterizing an era, or episteme, and this in turn is what distinguishes it from past and present eras.
The archive is an integral part of Foucault's 'archaeological' method, a practice employed in his own work in the study of reason and mental illness (Madness and Civilisation, 1967), medical understanding (The Birth of the Clinic, 1973) and the formation of the human sciences (The Order of Things, 1970). His later work was more concerned with relations of discourse, power and knowledge and employed a 'genealogical' analysis to that end.

See also archaeology; genealogy. [from: Brooker, 1999]