“Beyond the Census: Colonial Ethnography on India’s North-West Frontier”
Zak Leonard, University of Chicago
Seeking to challenge the totalizing theory of an “ethnographic state,” this paper examines a paradigm shift that occurred in the mid-nineteenth century and impacted the colonial study of borderland populations along India’s North-West Frontier. While the establishment of metropolitan intellectual societies facilitated the rise of socio-cultural evolutionism, colonial agents in this region also utilized oral culture-study to critique governmental modernization projects and vocalize their personal political viewpoints. This study, then, complicates the relationship between knowledge production and state power by reasserting the significance of personality as an operative force in the formation of colonial discourse.
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