Since the turn of the century, interest in translation history has grown considerably, with special issues of journals appearing, greater dialogue between scholars from different traditions taking place, and dedicated book series being launched. Two persistent questions mark these debates – what is the purpose of translation history, and where exactly is its disciplinary location? Underlying such concerns is an often anxious interrogation of the uses (and possible abuses) of historical methodologies. This chapter argues that approaches borrowed from historical ethnography may begin to broaden the debate by directing attention away from finality towards materials – the hybrid resources at our disposal – and away from the questioning of disciplinary identities towards a search for innovative ways in which to express our findings. Drawing on examples from conflict and post conflict situations, the chapter advocates challenging the archive by recognizing the opportunities offered to scholars by the contingency and transversality of potential resources. It further calls for imaginative forms of ‘present-ing’ the past “as it was actually experienced … in its ordered and disordered natures” (in the words of Greg Dening). Translation history practised as historical ethnography, the chapter will demonstrate, can make a distinct contribution to both translation studies and the study of history.