By Ann Laura Stoler
Alongside the Archival Grain deals a special methodological and analytic starting to the affective registers of imperial governance and the political content material of archival kinds. In a sequence of nuanced mediations at the nature of colonial records from the nineteenth-century Netherlands Indies, Ann Laura Stoler identifies the social epistemologies that guided belief and perform, revealing the tricky racial ontologies of that harassed epistemic house. Navigating customary and outstanding paths throughout the lettered lives of these who governed, she seizes on moments whilst good judgment failed and winning different types now not looked as if it would paintings. She asks no longer what colonial brokers knew, yet what occurred whilst what they proposal they knew they discovered they didn't. Rejecting the thought that archival hard work be approached as an extractive firm, Stoler units her attractions on archival construction as a consequential act of governance, as a box of strength with violent influence, and never least as a vibrant house to do ethnography.
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Extra info for Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Commonsense
6 Regimes of ofﬁcial documentation in his account are inert remnants, iconic roadmaps to regimes of domination that warp the integrity of the best of men. Such closed-circuited regimes of impoverished testimony produce their experts who in turn produce them. This site of safekeeping, a pyre of empire, is one plausible way to describe the deadening weight of colonial archives. But it is not the one I have in mind. Pramoedya’s caricature is a still life, or a pointillist free frame that captures the rigidities and distortions of a colonial optic.
References to the need for European nurseries might seem unremarkable in lengthy reports on education but offer striking openings to political thinking when colonial administrators obsessed over them in classiﬁed documents elsewhere: in a commission on European pauperism, in recommendations to quell creole discontent, in debates over mixed bloods “too proud” to learn manual labor. ”15 In these contexts, such conjoinings of the banal and political mark implicit anxieties about subject-formation, about the psychic space of empire, about what went without saying, about the common sense that made these reasoned pairings.
Ethnography in the Archives [Ethnographic work] is neither a matter of piling on theoretical antecedents nor a matter of going where no one has been before. I would put it rather that we need to go precisely where we have 30 Royal commissions have a longer history still. See, for example, David Loades, “The Royal Commissions,” in Power in Tudor England (New York: St. Martin’s, 1997), 70–82. : Harvard University Press, 1998), 178–209. For the twentieth century, see William J. Breen, “Foundations, Statistics, and State-Building,” Business History Review 68 (1994): 451–82.
Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Commonsense by Ann Laura Stoler