By Ann Laura Stoler
Alongside the Archival Grain bargains a different methodological and analytic establishing to the affective registers of imperial governance and the political content material of archival kinds. In a chain of nuanced mediations at the nature of colonial files 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 commonplace and striking paths throughout the lettered lives of these who governed, she seizes on moments whilst good judgment failed and triumphing different types now not looked as if it would paintings. She asks now not what colonial brokers knew, yet what occurred while what they idea they knew they discovered they didn't. Rejecting the proposal that archival hard work be approached as an extractive firm, Stoler units her attractions on archival creation as a consequential act of governance, as a box of strength with violent influence, and never least as a bright area to do ethnography.
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Extra resources for Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense
Political dangers resided in the domestic milieus in which “mixed blood” children lived and the misguided affections those environments provided. ” The reference to the “European population” raises an issue at the center of this book, for most of those children discussed in these reports were not legally acknowledged as European, could not speak Dutch, and were living outside the European quarters. Such “ofﬁcial” circuits of communication between the Minister of Colonies and the Governor-General were crisscrossed with voices that were never contained by ofﬁcial pronouncements alone.
A triumph of concealment. It conceals the real history and relations of subjection behind an a-historical mask of legitimating illusion; contrives to deny the existence of connections and conﬂicts which would if recognized be incompatible with claimed autonomy and integration of the state. The real ofﬁcial secret . . ” Abrams, I think, gets it right and wrong. There is no “a-historical mask” but rather an elaborate apparatus geared to the task of historical reproduction. Nor was the colonial state nonexistent if we understand it rather as an imperial one that stretched across multiple locations—in the Indies and the Netherlands— and multiple sites and technologies of command.
But it also registers other reverberations, crosscurrent frictions, attractions, and aversions that worked within and against those assertions of imperial rights to property, persons, and profits that colonial regimes claimed as their own. 13 The Pangemananns, whose reports were destroyed as soon as they were read, leave only a faint trace. Rather, these chapters pause at the hands and habits of those charged with the writing, recording, sorting, and proliferation of documents, in the unremarkable forms in which writerly practices appeared; in the tone and tenor of a reprimand, a dismissal, or praise, in ﬂoridly clear or illegible signatures at the bottom of a neatly copied page.