By Ann Laura Stoler
Alongside the Archival Grain deals a special methodological and analytic commencing 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 notion and perform, revealing the troublesome racial ontologies of that harassed epistemic area. Navigating commonplace and impressive paths during the lettered lives of these who governed, she seizes on moments whilst good judgment failed and triumphing different types now not appeared to paintings. She asks no longer what colonial brokers knew, yet what occurred whilst what they suggestion they knew they discovered they didn't. Rejecting the concept that archival hard work 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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Extra info for Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense
Relegated to archival asides are lowly civil servants gone bankrupt in efforts to pay for their sons’ requisite schooling in Holland. European women go mad in throwaway sentences. In abbreviated asides impoverished widows of lowly Dutch ofﬁcials send their servants to beg from their neighbors for food and funds on their behalf. 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.
Neglect of children, indifference to work, succumbing to native standards were affective states not captured in numbers; condemnations of the sensory world in which poor whites lived afforded more palpable and convincing evidence of what colonial agents already thought they knew about the sorting of people and how race shaped distinct habits and inclinations. 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.
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 28 Frans Husken, “Declining Welfare in Java: Government and Private Inquiries, 1903– 1914,” in The Late Colonial State in Indonesia, ed. Robert Cribb (Leiden: KITLV, 1994), 213. 29 See Arjun Appadurai on numerical representation in colonial India as a “key to normalizing the pathology of difference” in “Numbers in the Colonial Imagination,” in Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 114–38.