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Type: Journal article
Title: The blind eye and the strong arm: The colonial archive and the imbrication of knowledge and power in mid-nineteenth century Java
Author: Knight, G.
Citation: Asian Journal of Social Science, 2005; 33(3):544-567
Publisher: National University of Singapore, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology
Issue Date: 2005
ISSN: 1568-4849
Abstract: The argument of this paper relates to on-going debates about the acquisition of knowledge and the enhancement of power in the context of European empire building during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It seeks to locate these debates in the specific context of the Netherlands Indies and its key island of Java in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, at a time when the Dutch colonial power attempted a major fact-finding investigation of the island’s sugar industry, and of the social and economic circumstances of “peasant” Java, in which colonial sugar manufacturers operated. It argues that in this particular instance, the attempt to assemble colonial knowledge exposed the potentially counter-productive aspects of such projects. It highlights the limitations of colonial knowledge implicit in the institutional structure of colonial power, and the extent to which, in the circumstances of mid-nineteenth century Java, the blind eye was the necessary corollary of the strong arm. This was because power rested on a carefully and consciously circumscribed quest for knowledge, which might easily be upset by too keen an investigation of the social and economic circumstances of the countryside.
Description: © 2005 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden
RMID: 0020051969
DOI: 10.1163/156853105775013698
Appears in Collections:History publications

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