Download Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial by Ann Laura Stoler PDF

By Ann Laura Stoler

Alongside the Archival Grain bargains a special methodological and analytic commencing to the affective registers of imperial governance and the political content material of archival varieties. 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 notion and perform, revealing the difficult racial ontologies of that burdened epistemic area. Navigating well-known and impressive paths during the lettered lives of these who governed, she seizes on moments while good judgment failed and triumphing different types not looked as if it would paintings. She asks now not what colonial brokers knew, yet what occurred whilst what they suggestion they knew they discovered they didn't. Rejecting the thought that archival exertions be approached as an extractive company, Stoler units her attractions on archival construction as a consequential act of governance, as a box of strength with violent impression, and never least as a brilliant area to do ethnography.

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51 On the “patent and latent” attributes of racial assessments, see my “Racial Histories and their Regimes of Truth,” Political Power and Social Theory 11 (1997): 183–206. 52 Paul Rabinow, Anthropos Today: Reflections on Modern Equipment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 41–42. qxd 6/19/08 1:59 PM Page 38 38 • Chapter Two familiar—or discordant and strange. My concern is with the conditions of epistemic choice and chance, of inculcation and innovation. I ask how people charged with large-scale management and local situations imagined they might identify what they knew they could not see, what common sense they used to assess racial belonging or political desires that were not available to ocular senses, how they distinguished politically motivated passions from private ones.

Peirce calls the “habit-taking” processes by which people align themselves with forces that are already there. Habit-taking works off colonial conventions and their common sense and is part of their making. These were the “grids of intelligibility” that made certain conventions acceptable, obvious, and 49 See Paul Willem Johan van der Veur, “The Eurasians of Indonesia: A Problem and Challenge in Colonial History,” in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 9 (2) (1968): 191–207. Van der Veur holds that in the mid-nineteenth century the term was synonymous with the “colored” (kleurlingen), though such a broad definition was rarely used.

These are archives peopled with Dutch administrators, as well as German and French planters scrambling to figure out whether their plantation holdings might be attacked by a few workers bent on revenge against an abusive planter— or by phantasmic “hoards” of Islamic insurgents armed to storm their guarded gates. Within the constricted ontologies of rule, understandings of outrage often escaped the reasoned state. 10 The portent-laden future of revolt and betrayal is always on the imminent and dangerous horizon.

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