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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

Autobiography of an Archive

Autobiography of an Archive

(p.50) 2 Autobiography of an Archive
Autobiography of an Archive

Nicholas B. Dirks

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes an encounter with the archive of Colin Mackenzie. The first volume of T. V. Mahalingam's new catalog of the Mackenzie Collection was published in 1972, the year this book's author went to begin his graduate studies in Indian history. As he built his own work on some of the questions and preoccupations of the then-regnant “ethnosociology,” the author exerted an effort to engage in sociological analysis using only “native” categories. As he began to formulate his dissertation plans around the local lords (palaiyakkarars) of the southern Tamil countryside in what was then called the late precolonial period, he hoped the Mackenzie Collection would provide that treasure trove of archival materials every historian desires. He set out to write a biography of Mackenzie not only to pay homage to the man, but also to explore both the origins of a modern historiography of southern India and to provide the basis for a cultural history that would precede, and in part exceed, the constraints of colonial modalities of representation.

Keywords:   archive, Colin Mackenzie, T. V. Mahalingam, Mackenzie Collection, India, history, Tamil, biography, historiography, cultural history

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