Sources and Methods in Histories of Colonialism
Approaching the Imperial Archive
Edited by Kirsty Reid, Fiona Paisley
Routledge – 2015 – 256 pages
Sources and Methods in Histories of Colonialism encourages readers to think more critically and analytically about the archives in which they work as well as about their research methods, their sources and their conceptual approaches. This volume provides an in-depth and critical survey of the now substantial and influential scholarly literatures on the functions and scope of the ‘imperial archive’ and on the relationships between the archive, knowledge and power. It allows readers to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges of working with a range of specific source genres within imperial and colonial archives. It explores the ways in which newer approaches to, and ways of thinking about, the past have challenged more traditional views of ‘the archive’, provoking new questions about what archives are and where their conceptual, geographical and chronological boundaries might lie. And, it assesses the implications of these shifts for those interested in researching and writing about colonial and postcolonial societies.
Focusing on the period from the late eighteenth century to the present, the authors examine issues, themes and case studies pertaining to a broad range of modern empires including those established by Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States. The source genres discussed illustrate and exemplify a range of core themes and debates regarding the writing of colonial and postcolonial histories, covering a range of subjects including government papers, censuses, petitions, case-files, and orality. Many of the chapters combine an overview of the current state of research and writing about a particular source genre or conceptual theme with a case study. This combination of overview and case study will enable readers to explore and examine the issues in a grounded, hands-on and applied fashion.
Introduction. Part I: Empires, Archives and Power Part II: State & Official Archives Part III: Tracking ‘Subaltern’ Voice? Part IV: Moving Beyond the State.