Sources and Methods in Histories of Colonialism
Approaching the Imperial Archive
Edited by Kirsty Reid, Fiona Paisley
To Be Published March 15th 2014 by Routledge – 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 in particular on the relationship 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 & colonial archives. And it explores the ways in which newer approaches to, and ways of thinking about, the past, such as transnationalism or gender, 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 colonial and postcolonial societies.
Looking at the period from the eighteenth century to the present, Kirsty Reid and Fiona Paisley examine issues, themes and case studies pertaining to a broad range of modern European empires including those established by Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States. The source genres discussed illustrate and exemplify the core themes and debates regarding the writing of colonial and postcolonial histories, covering subjects such as government papers, censuses, tattoos and talk. Each of the chapters are organised into two parts. The first part provides an overview of the current state of research and writing about that particular source genre or conceptual theme. Part two of each chapter is structured around a case study which enables readers to explore and examine the issues in a grounded, hands-on and applied fashion.