By Ann Laura Stoler

Alongside the Archival Grain bargains a different methodological and analytic beginning 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 records from the nineteenth-century Netherlands Indies, Ann Laura Stoler identifies the social epistemologies that guided notion and perform, revealing the tricky racial ontologies of that careworn epistemic area. Navigating commonplace and outstanding paths throughout the lettered lives of these who governed, she seizes on moments whilst logic failed and winning different types not looked as if it would paintings. She asks now not what colonial brokers knew, yet what occurred whilst what they idea they knew they discovered they didn't. Rejecting the thought that archival hard work be approached as an extractive company, Stoler units her points of interest on archival creation as a consequential act of governance, as a box of strength with violent impact, and never least as a vibrant area to do ethnography.

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Extra info for Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense

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6 20 • Chapter Two making, in the fine crafts of cribbing and culling on which colonial bureaucracies so relied. In the interstices of sanctioned formulae these Netherlands Indies archives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mark the distance between recognized and disqualified knowledge, between intelligible accounts and those deemed inappropriate for exchange. 9 Sometimes these are emergent and awkward, sometimes suspended and unfulfilled narratives within the archive’s dominant mode.

Such overviews—of regions, problems, or target populations— were rendered from cribbed and cluttered, spare and hurried reports of the disorder of things, written in the studied ineloquence of bureaucratese. Sometimes they were impressionistic and distant, elsewhere animated by intimate fear less than intimate knowledge of what multiple colonial civil servants thought they saw, what was reported by an unnamed underling, or what they claimed others had said. Wedged within those folds of truth-claims emerges something else: uncensored turns of phrase, loud asides in the imperative tense, hesitant asides in sotto voce.

History emerges in an unintended shape as a result of practices directed to immediate, practical ends. To watch these practices establish selective principles that highlight some kinds of events and obscure others is to inspect the social order operating on individual minds. —Mary Douglas, How Institutions Think Archivists are the first to note that to understand an archive, one needs to understand the institutions that it served. “State secrets” are one of those key conventions of concealment that produce the “shadowed places” to 15 See Ann Laura Stoler, “A Sentimental Education: Children on the Colonial Divide,” in Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 112–39, and idem, Race and the Education of Desire (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 137–64.

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