Colonial Archives and the Arts of Governance: On the Content in the Form



This essay is about the colonial order of things as seen through its archival productions. It asks what insights about the colonial might be gained from attending not only to colonialism’s archival content, but also to its particular and sometimes peculiar form. Its focus is on archiving as a process rather than to archives as things. It looks to archives as epistemological experiments rather than as sources, to colonial archives as cross-sections of contested knowledge. Most important, it looks to colonial archives as technologies of rule in themselves. Its concerns are two: to situate new approaches to colonial archives within the broader ‘historic turn’ of the last two decades, and to suggest what critical histories of the colonial have to gain by turning further toward a politics of knowledge that reckons with archival genres, cultures of documentation, fictions of access and archival conventions.


State Secret Colonial State Colonial History Governor General Historic Turn 
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