Jacques Pouchepadass

Sur la critique postecoloniale du «discours» de l'archive

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  • Abstract

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This paper is a discussion of post-structuralist criticism of archives inspired by Foucault and Derrida, which developed from the 1990s in such reviews as "The American Archivist", "Archivaria" and "Archival Science". This criticism problematizes archives (but also documents and their holding places) as materials and cultural sites that are culturally and politically constructed. Historians following this stream mostly specialize in colonial history and are influenced by post-colonial and feminist Anglo-Saxon theories. Their main theoretical reference point is a combination of two key texts - Foucalt's pages about archives in his L'archéologie du savoir and Derrida's Mal d'archive (1995) - together with Said's criticism of Orientalism. This article considers the forms of this postcolonial view on archives and its consequences on writing history through the analysis of various recent works, especially Antoinette Burton's Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home and History in Late Colonial India (Oxford 2003) and Betty Joseph's Reading the East India Company 1720-1840: Colonial Currencies of Gender (Chicago 2004).

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