106: Colonialism, Historiography, and the Archive
Instructor(s) Samera Esmeir
This course examines the relationship between historiography and colonialism. Three sets of questions guide our inquiry: First, how did the modern colonial encounter of the “Age of Empire” change the practice and institutions of historiography? What methods were universalized and what others marginalized? Second, to what extent has the historiography of colonialism been shaped by particular archival formations? How does the archive affect historical inquiries about colonialism? Third, did the experience of de-colonization and the waging of anti-colonial revolutionary struggles incite new methods of writing history? Have these experiences and struggles affected historians’ temporal sensibilities? By probing these questions, we are able to assess the historiography of colonialism, its limitations and possibilities. We are also able to examine the discipline of history from the perspective of the colonial encounter and anti-colonial struggles. Works of literature will also be introduced in order to investigate their contribution to, and departure from, some historical methods.
Our readings for the course will consist of historical manuscripts, writings on historiography and literature. Articles and book chapters will be posted on Bspace. In addition, the following books are required and are available in the bookstore.
1. Kathryn Burns, Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru
(Duke University Press, 2010)
2. Ann Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense
(Princeton University Press, 2010)
3. Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History
(University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009)
4.Yoav Di-Capua, Gatekeepers of the Arab Past: Historians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt
(University of California Press, 2009)