In the UK, professional texts on archives concentrate on the how, not the why, of professional archival work. At the same time, studies of the theoretical role of the archive and the text are undertaken in other academic disciplines and there is an established forum for the discussion of related issues. This book invites the archivist to that arena of discussion, whilst appealing to all those interested in archives from other disciplines. The authors encourage archivists to step away from the practicalities of keeping archives, and to consider what it is they actually do in the cultural context of the early 21st century.The concepts of identity and culture and what they mean in the context of archives today are analysed as is the issue of change and continuity, asking whether archives are always textual and whether views of manuscripts and papers are changing. Finally, the impact of technology, and particularly the internet, is discussed along with the concept of community archives. Taken together, these chapters, written by leading experts in the field, provide the most up-to-date survey of the role of the archive.