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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter invites us to question a set of commanding assumptions on which postcolonial critiques of colonialism have long been grounded: namely, that ‘the supremacy of reason’ was at once the hallmark of colonial governance, an Enlightenment ‘legacy’, a key source of ‘epistemic violence’, and the grounds on which Empire’s agents claimed their authority. It is argued that such assumptions are not only unfounded; they also occlude other crucial factors of what constituted the practices of rule: the affective attachments recruited, the sensibilities schooled, and the dark anticipatory fears engendered among those charged with these ‘defensive’ tasks. Not least, the focus on reason displaces a crucial imperial genealogy and history of the present: one in which the practices of imperial counter-insurgency, surveillance, security and ‘preparedness’ are solidly based.

Keywords: Reason, unreason, Enlightenment, Empire, critical colonial studies, Netherlands East Indies

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