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

By Ann Laura Stoler

Alongside the Archival Grain bargains a different methodological and analytic starting 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 frustrating racial ontologies of that pressured epistemic house. Navigating established and amazing paths in the course of the lettered lives of these who governed, she seizes on moments while logic failed and triumphing different types not appeared to paintings. She asks now not what colonial brokers knew, yet what occurred whilst what they concept they knew they discovered they didn't. Rejecting the inspiration that archival hard work be approached as an extractive firm, Stoler units her points of interest on archival construction as a consequential act of governance, as a box of strength with violent impression, and never least as a bright house to do ethnography.

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Like statistics, commissions were common tools of statecraft forged by social reform–conscious nineteenth-century states. As instruments of moral science, statistics used deviations from the mean to identify deviations from the norm. 29 That so many commissions were convened in the late nineteenth century was part of a technology of state practice 1___ 0___ 1___ 28 Frans Husken, “Declining Welfare in Java: Government and Private Inquiries, 1903–1914,” in The Late Colonial State in Indonesia, ed.

When colonial social reformers conceived scrupulously planned utopias made of small-scale farmers drawn from the mixed blood orphanages, their minute descriptions of those children’s inclinations mirrored visions of what they conceived adults to be and what they feared improperly schooled children might become. Such projections, in turn, made more real the visceral fear of the resentments such subjects in the making were thought to harbor. Plans to school the young for state loyalty and limited aspirations underscored their lack of both.

Irony and humor are not lacking, mockery targets those who are too literal or not literal enough. ” Stock phrases took on different political import depending on where they were placed. Contexts of relevance rapidly changed. 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.

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