The colonial archival imaginaire at home

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Author:
Elizabeth Edwards De Montfort University

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This paper addresses ways in which the aphasic nature of the colonial archive in postcolonial Britain causes a displacement in the archival imagination as ‘elsewhere’. I use the concept of the historical elsewhere to demonstrate the deep structural patterns in the denial of the relevance of the potentially dystopic colonial archive in public historical narratives. Looking especially at the photographic archive, I explore ways in which photographs cut across these mechanisms of disavowal, as the visual both challenges the aphasic through its insistent claims to presence, and through its ambiguous relationship to the time and space that constitute the elsewhere.

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