By Nicholas Dirks
The many years among 1970 and the top of the 20th century observed the disciplines of background and anthropology draw nearer jointly, with historians paying extra awareness to social and cultural elements and the importance of daily event within the examine of the prior. the folks, instead of elite actors, turned the point of interest in their inquiry, and anthropological insights into agriculture, kinship, ritual, and people customs enabled historians to advance richer and extra consultant narratives. The intersection of those disciplines additionally helped students reframe the legacies of empire and the roots of colonial knowledge.
In this choice of essays and lectures, history's flip from excessive politics and formal highbrow heritage towards traditional lives and cultural rhythms is vividly mirrored in a scholar's highbrow trip to India. Nicholas B. Dirks recounts his early research of kingship in India, the increase of the caste approach, the emergence of English imperial curiosity in controlling markets and India's political regimes, and the improvement of a difficulty in sovereignty that resulted in a rare nationalist fight. He stocks his own encounters with files that supplied the assets and bounds for learn on those matters, eventually revealing the boundaries of colonial wisdom and unmarried disciplinary views. Drawing parallels to the best way American universities stability the liberal arts and really good learn this present day, Dirks, who has occupied senior administrative positions and now leads the collage of California at Berkeley, encourages students to proceed to use a number of methods to their examine and construct a extra international and moral archive.
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Extra resources for Autobiography of an archive : a scholar's passage to India
Anthropologists had always felt that their craft afforded access to everyday life and politics, to culture as a way of life rather than as high culture, but they knew they needed to take a longer view to understand both the 20 INTRODUCT ION: PASSAGE TO INDIA relationship of the present to the changes wrought by colonialism and modernization as well as the dynamic nature of the social structures and cultural frames they sought to explain, especially as they broadened their compass to include all parts of the globe.
Ethnography and the Archive When I began my historical research on the late nineteenth century, I encountered the voluminous workings of direct British rule both at the central level in New Delhi and at the provincial level in Madras. As I paged through indexes of documents that reflected the quotidian procedures of government, I read files that considered and then ruled on issues ranging from the appointment of a particular individual to a position (say, for example, the new superintendent of ethnography) to the reasons why such a superintendent, with a new organization and mission, might be so important to the colonial state at the time.
It was on the basis of these records that my own anthropological history of the old regime was predicated. 14 Princely states tended to preserve the past much more effectively than areas under direct British rule, despite the extent to which the past changed dramatically under the impact of demilitarization and the effective “freezing” of older forms and processes of political life. Even as these old hand-copied records traversed the streets of Pudukkottai town to be copied and transferred into the historical record of postcolonial India, they represented the full force of colonial ideas, institutions, and initiatives as the local “settlement” of revenues followed the logic and protocol of Madras Presidency at large.
Autobiography of an archive : a scholar's passage to India by Nicholas Dirks