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Autobiography of an ArchiveA Scholar's Passage to India$
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Nicholas Dirks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169677

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169677.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Annals of the Archive

Annals of the Archive

Ethnographic Notes on the Sources of History

(p.27) 1 Annals of the Archive
Autobiography of an Archive

Nicholas B. Dirks

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the ethnography of the archive by reflecting on the book's author's personal experience: his journey to the modern archive to conduct research for his dissertation as part of his graduate studies in Indian history. According to this chapter, historians can only really become historians or write history once they have been to the archive. His interest in the small voices, cultural forms, and contradictory ruptures of history seemed designed neither for easy recognition nor ready access. His formal acquaintance with the archive was prefaced by several years of working with original documents that themselves preceded the establishment of the modern archive. His thesis focused on the essential relationship between political authority and social relations in early modern South India. The archive that formally inaugurated his experience as a historian was the India Office Library in London. He also worked extensively in archives and libraries in New Delhi, Madras, and Pudukkottai in addition to the archive of Colin Mackenzie.

Keywords:   ethnography, archive, research, dissertation, history, political authority, social relations, South India, India Office Library, Colin Mackenzie

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