In the last decade, a focus on memory in the human sciences has encouraged new approaches to the study of the past. As the humanities and social sciences have put into question their own claims to objectivity, authority and universality, memory has appeared to offer a way of engaging with knowledge of the past as inevitably partial, subjective and local. At the same time, memory and memorial practices have become sites of contestation, and the politics of memory are increasingly prominent.
Primarily concerned with Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand), the essays within traverse local, national and global knowledge to offer new approaches that consider the ability and potential for history to ‘make a difference’ in the early twenty-first century. Authors adopt a wide range of methodological approaches, including social, cultural, Māori, oral, race relations, religious, public, political, economic, visual and material history. The chapters engage with work in postcolonial and cultural studies.
The volume is divided into three sections that address the themes of challenging power and privilege, the co-production of historical knowledge and public and material histories. Collectively, the potential for dialogue across previous sub-disciplinary and public, private and professional divides is pursued.
Navigating familiar and extraordinary paths through the lettered lives of those who ruled, she seizes on moments when common sense failed and prevailing categories no longer seemed to work. She asks not what colonial agents knew, but what happened when what they thought they knew they found they did not. Rejecting the notion that archival labor be approached as an extractive enterprise, Stoler sets her sights on archival production as a consequential act of governance, as a field of force with violent effect, and not least as a vivid space to do ethnography.