Excerpt from: Imagined Communities. Verso: London, 1991
In the original edition of Imagined Communities I wrote that "so often in the nation-building policies of the new states one sees both a genuine, popular nationalist enthusiasm, and a systematic, even Machiavellian, instilling of nationalist ideology through the mass media, the educational system, administrative regulations, and so forth." My short-sighted assumption then was that official nationalism in the colonized worlds of Asia and Africa was modelled directly on that of the dynastic states of nineteenth-century Europe. Subsequent reflection has persuaded me that this view was hasty and superficial, and that the immediate genealogy should be traced to the imaginings of the colonial state. At first sight, this conclusion may seem surprising, since colonial states were typically anti-nationalist, and often violently so. But if one looks beneath colonial ideologies and policies to the grammar in which, from the mid nineteenth century, they were deployed, the lineage becomes decidedly more clear.
Few things bring this grammar into more visible relief than three institutions of power which, although invented before the mid nineteenth century, changed their form and function as the colonized zones entered the age of mechanical reproduction. These three institutions were the census, the map, and the museum: together, they profoundly shaped the way in which the colonial state imagined its dominion – the nature of the human beings it ruled, the geography of its domain, and the legitimacy of its ancestry. To explore the character of this nexus I shall, in this chapter, confine my attention to Southeast Asia, since my conclusions are tentative, and my claims to serious specialization limited to that region. Southeast Asia does, however, offer those with comparative historical interests special advantages, since it includes territories colonized by almost all the "white" imperial powers – Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, and the United States – as well as uncolonized Siam. Readers with greater knowledge of other parts of Asia and Africa than mine will be better positioned to judge if my argument is sustainable on a wider historical and geographical stage.
In two valuable recent papers the sociologist Charles Hirschman has begun the study of the of the British colonial census-makers for the Straits Settlements and peninsular Malaya, and their successors working for the independent conglomerate state of Malaysia.(1) Hirschmans facsimiles of the "identity categories" of successive censuses from the late nineteenth century up to the recent present show an extraordinarily rapid, superficially arbitrary, series of changes, in which categories are continuously agglomerated, disaggregated, recombined, intermixed, and reordered (but the politically powerful identity categories always lead the list). From these censuses he draws two principal conclusions. The first is that, as the colonial period wore on, the census categories became more visibly and exclusively racial.(2) Religious identity, on the other hand, gradually disappeared as a primary census classification. "Hindoos" – ranked alongside "Klings," and "Bengalees" – vanished after the first census of 1871. "Parsecs" lasted until the census of 1901, where they still appeared – packed in with "Bengalis, " "Burmese," and "Tamils" – under the broad category "Tamils and Other Natives of India." His second conclusion is that, on the whole, the large racial categories were retained and even concentrated after independence, but now redesignated and reranked as "Malaysian," "Chinese ", "Indian," and "Other." Yet anomalies continued up into the 1980s. In the 1980 census "Sikh" still appeared nervously as a pseudoethnic subcategory – alongside "Malayah" and "Telegu," "Pakistani" and "Bangladeshi," "Sri Lankan Tamil," and "Other Sri Lankan,"– under the general heading "Indian."
But Hirschmans wonderful facsimiles encourage one to go beyond his immediate analytical concerns. Take, for example, the 1911 Federated Malay States Census, which lists under "Malay Population by Race" the following:
"Malay," "Javanese," "Sakai," "Banjarese," "Boyanese," "Mendeling" (sic), "Krinchi" (sic), "Jambi," "Achinese," "Bugis," and "Other."
Of these "groups" all but (most) "Malay" and "Sakai" originated from the islands of Sumatra, Java, Southern Borneo, and the Celebes, all parts of the huge neighboring colony of the Netherlands East Indies. But these extra-FMS origins receive no recognition from the census-makers who, in constructing their "Malays," keep their eyes modestly lowered to their own colonial borders. (Needless to say, across the waters, Dutch census-makers were constructing a different imagining of "Malays," as a minor ethnicity alongside, not above, "Achinese," "Javanese," and the like.) "Jambi" and "Krinchi" refer to places, rather than to anything remotely identifiable as ethnolinguistic. It is extremely unlikely that, in 1911, more than a tiny fraction of those categorized and subcategorized would have recognized themselves under such labels. These "identities," imagined by the (confusedly) classifying mind of the colonial state, still awaited a reification which imperial administrative penetration would soon make possible. One notices, in addition, the census-makers passion for completeness and unambiguity. Hence their intolerance of multiple, politically "transvestite," blurred, or changing identifications. Hence the weird subcategory, tinder each racial group, of "Others" – who, nonetheless, are absolutely not to be confused with other "Others." The fiction of the census is that everyone is in it, and that everyone has one – and only one – extremely clear place. No fractions.
This mode of imagining by the colonial state had origins much older than the censuses of the 1870s, so that, in order fully to understand why the late-nineteenth-century censuses are yet profoundly novel, it is useful to look back to the earliest days of European penetration of Southeast Asia. Two examples, drawn from the Philippine and Indonesian archipelagoes, are instructive. In an important recent book, William Henry Scott has attempted meticulously to reconstruct the class structure of the pre-Hispanic Philippines, on the basis of the earliest Spanish records.(3) As a professional historian Scott is perfectly aware that the Philippines owes its name to Felipe II of "Spain," and bat, but for mischance or luck, the archipelago might have fallen into Dutch or English hands, become politically segmented, or been recombined with further conquests.(4) It is tempting therefore to attribute his curious choice of topic to his long residence in the Philippines and his strong sympathy with a Filipino nationalism that has been, for a century now, on the trail of an aboriginial Eden. But the chances are good that the deeper basis for the shaping of his imagination was the sources on which he was compelled to rely. For the fact is that wherever in the islands the earliest clerics and conquistadors ventured they espied, on shore, principales, hidalgos, pecheros, and esclavos (princes, noblemen, commoners and slaves) – quasi-estates adapted from the social classifications of late mediaeval Iberia. The documents they left behind offer plenty of incidental evidence that the "hidalgos" were mostly unaware of one anothers existence in the huge, scattered, and sparsely populated archipelago, and, where aware, usually saw one another not as hidalgos, but as enemies or potential slaves. But the power of the grid is so great that such evidence is marginalized in Scotts imagination, and therefore it is hard for him to see that the "class structure" of the precolonial period is a "census" imagining created from the poops of Spanish galleons. Wherever they went, hidalgos and esclavos loomed up, who could only be aggregated as such, that is "structurally," by an incipient colonial state.
For Indonesia we have, thanks to the research of Mason Hoadley, a detailed account of an important judicial case decided in the coastal port of Cirebon, Java, at the end of the seventeenth century.(5) By luck, the Dutch (VOC) and local Cirebonese records are still available. If the Cirebonese account only had survived, we would know the accused murderer as a high official of the Cirebonese court, and only by his title Ki Aria Marta Ningrat, not a personal name. The VOC records, however, angrily identify him as a Chinees – indeed that is the single most important piece of information about him that they convey. It is clear then that the Cirebonese court classified people by rank and status, while the Company did so by something like "race." There is no reason whatever to think that the accused murderer – whose high status attests to his and his ancestors long integration into Cirebonese society, no matter what their origins – thought of himself as "a" Chinees. How then did the VOC arrive at this classification? From what poops was it possible to imagine Chinees? Surely only those ferociously mercantile poops which, under centralized command, roved ceaselessly from port to port between the Gulf of Mergui and the mouth of the Yangtze-kiang. Oblivious of the heterogeneous populations of the Middle Kingdom; of the mutual incomprehensibility of many of their spoken languages; and of the peculiar social and geographic origins of their diaspora across coastal Southeast Asia, the Company imagined, with its trans-oceanic eye, an endless series of Chinezen, as the conquistadors had seen an endless series of hidalgos. And on the basis of this inventive census it began to insist that those under its control whom it categorized as Chinezen dress, reside, marry, be buried, and bequeath property according to that census. it is striking that the much less far-faring and commercially minded Iberians in the Philippines imagined a quite different census category: what they called sangley. Sangley was an incorporation into Spanish of the Hokkien sengli – meaning "trader." (6) One can imagine Spanish proto-census men asking the traders drawn to Manila by the galleon trade: "Who are you?", and being sensibly told: "We are traders." (7) Not sailing the seven Asian seas, for two centuries the Iberians remained in a comfortably provincial conceptual fog. Only very slowly did the sangley turn into "Chinese" – until the word disappeared in the early nineteenth century to make way for a VOC-style chino.
The real innovation of the census-takers of the 1870s was, therefore, not in the construction of ethnic-racial classifications, but rather in their systematic quantification. Precolonial rulers in the Malayo-Javanese world had attempted enumerations of the populations under their control, but these took the form of tax-rolls and levy-lists. Their purposes were concrete and specific: to keep track of those on whom taxes and military conscription could effectively be imposed – for these rulers were interested solely in economic surplus and armable manpower. Early European regimes in the region did not, in this respect, differ markedly from their predecessors. But after 1850 colonial authorities were using increasingly sophisticated administrative means to enumerate populations, including the women and children (whom the ancient rulers had always ignored), according to a maze of grids which had no immediate financial or military purpose. In the old days, those subjects liable for taxes and conscription were usually well aware of their numerability; ruler and ruled understood each other very well, if antagonistically, on the matter. But by 1870, a non-taxpaying, unlevyable "Cochin-Chinese" woman could live out her life, happily or unhappily, in the Straits Settlements, without the slightest awareness that this was how she was being mapped from on high. Here the peculiarity of the new census becomes apparent. It tried carefully to count the objects of its feverish imagining. Given the exclusive nature of the classificatory system, and the logic of quantification itself, a "Cochin-Chinese" had to be understood as one digit in an aggregable series of replicable "Cochin-Chinese" – within, of course, the states domain. The new demographic topography put down deep social and institutional roots as the colonial state multiplied its size and functions. Guided by its imagined map it organized the new educational, juridical, publichealth, police, and immigration bureaucracies it was building on the principle of ethno-racial hierarchies which were, however, always understood in terms of parallel series. The flow of subject populations through the mesh of differential schools, courts, clinics, police stations and immigration offices created "traffic-habits" which in time gave real social life to the states earlier fantasies.
Needless to say, it was not always plain sailing, and the state frequently bumped into discomforting realities. Far and away the most important of these was religious affiliation, which served as the basis of very old, very stable imagined communities not in the least aligned with the secular states authoritarian grid-map. To different degrees, in different Southeast Asian colonies, the rulers were compelled to make messy accommodations, especially to Islam and Buddhism. In particular, religious shrines, schools, and courts – access to which was determined by individual popular self-choice, not the census – continued to flourish. The state could rarely do more than try to regulate, constrict, count, standardize, and hierarchically subordinate these institutions to its own.(8) It was precisely because temples, mosques, schools and courts were topographically anomalous that they were understood as zones of freedom and – in time – fortresses from which religious, later nationalist, anticolonials could go forth to battle. At the same time, there were frequent endeavours to force a better alignment of census with religious communities by – so far as was possible – politically and juridically ethnicizing the latter. In the Federated States of colonial Malaya, this task was relatively easy. Those whom the regime regarded as being in the series "Malay" were hustled off to the courts of "their" castrated Sultans, which were in substantial part administered according to Islamic law.(9) "Islamic" was thus treated as really just another name for "Malay." (Only after independence in 1957 were efforts made by certain political groups to reverse this logic by reading "Malay" as really another name for "Islamic"). In the vast, heterogeneous Netherlands Indies, where by the end of the colonial era an array of quarrelling missionary organizations had made substantial conversions in widely scattered zones, a parallel drive faced much more substantial obstacles. Yet even there, the 1920s and 1930s saw the growth of "ethnic" Christianities (the Batak Church, the Karo Church, later the Dayak Church, and so on) which developed in part because the state allocated proselytizing zones to different missionary groups according to its own census-topography. With Islam Batavia had no comparable success. It did not dare to prohibit the pilgrimage to Mecca, though it tried to inhibit the growth of the pilgrims numbers, policed their travels, and spied on them from an outpost at Jiddah set up just for this purpose. None of these measures sufficed to prevent the intensification of Indies Muslim contacts with the vast world of Islam outside, and especially the new currents of thought emanating from Cairo.(10)
In the meantime, however, Cairo and Mecca were beginning to be visualized in a strange new way, no longer simply as sites in a sacred Muslim geography, but also as dots on paper sheets which included dots for Paris, Moscow, Manila and Caracas; and the plane relationship between these indifferently profane and sacred dots was determined by nothing beyond the mathematically calculated flight of the crow. The Mercatorian map, brought in by the European colonizers, was beginning, via print, to shape the imagination of Southeast Asians.
In a recent, brilliant thesis the Thai historian Thongchai Winichakul has traced the complex processes by which a bordered "Siam" came into being between 1850 and 1910.(11) His account is instructive precisely because Siam was not colonized, though what in the end, came to be its borders were colonially determined. in the Thai case, therefore, one can see unusually clearly the emergence of a new state-mind within a "traditional" structure of political power.
Up until the accession, in 1851, of the intelligent Rama IV (the Mongkut of The King and I), only two types of map existed in Siam, and both were hand-made: the age of mechanical reproduction had not yet there dawned. One was what could be called a "cosmograph," a formal, symbolic representation of the Three Worlds of traditional Buddhist cosmology. The cosmograph was not organized horizontally, like our own maps; rather a series of supraterrestrial heavens and subterrestrial hells wedged in the visible world along a single vertical axis. It was useless for any journey save that in search of merit and salvation. The second type, wholly profane, consisted of diagrammatic guides for military campaigns and coastal shipping. Organized roughly by the quadrant, their main features were written-in notes on marching and sailing times, required because the mapmakers had no technical conception of scale. Covering only terrestrial, profane space, they were usually drawn in a queer oblique perspective or mixture of perspectives, as if the drawers eyes, accustomed from daily life to see the landscape horizontally, at eye-level, nonetheless were influenced subliminally by the verticality of the cosmograph. Thongchai points out that these guide-maps, always local, were never situated in a larger, stable geographic context, and that the birds-eye view convention of modern maps was wholly foreign to them.
Neither type of map marked borders. Their makers would have found incomprehensible the following elegant formulation of Richard Muir:(12)
Located at the interfaces between adjacent state territories, international boundaries have a special significance in determining the limits of sovereign authority and defining the spatial form of the contained political regions.... Boundaries. . occur where the vertical interfaces between state sovereignties intersect the surface of the earth .... As vertical interfaces, boundaries have no horizontal extent ....
Boundary-stones and similar markers did exist, and indeed multiplied along the western fringes of the realm as the British pressed in from Lower Burma. But these stones were set up discontinuously at strategic mountain passes and fords, and were often substantial distances from corresponding stones set up by the adversary. They were understood horizontally, at eye level, as extension points of royal power; not "from the air." Only in the 1870s did Thai leaders begin thinking of boundaries as segments of a continuous map-line corresponding to nothing visible on the ground, but demarcating an exclusive sovereignty wedged between other sovereignties. In 1874 appeared the first geographical textbook, by the American missionary J.W. Van Dyke – an early product of the print-capitalism that was by then sweeping into Siam. In 1882, Rama V established a special mapping school in Bangkok. In 1892, Minister of Education Prince Damrong Rajanuphab, inaugurating a modern-style school system for the country, made geography a compulsory subject at the junior secondary level. in 1900, or thereabouts, was published Phumisat Sayam (Geography of Siam) by W.G. Johnson, the model for all printed geographies of the country from that time onwards.(13) Thongchai notes that the vectoral convergence of print-capitalism with the new conception of spatial reality presented by these maps had an immediate impact on the vocabulary of Thai politics. Between 1900 and 1915, the traditional words krung and muang largely disappeared, because they imaged dominion in terms of sacred capitals and visible, discontinuous population centers.(14) In their place came prathet, "country," which imaged it in the invisible terms of bounded territorial space.(15)
Like censuses, European-style maps worked on the basis of a totalizing classification, and led their bureaucratic producers and consumers towards policies with revolutionary consequences. Ever since John Harrisons 1761 invention of the chronometer, which made possible the precise calculation of longitudes, the entire planets curved surface had been subjected to a geometrical grid which squared off empty seas and unexplored regions in measured boxes.(16) The task of, as it were, "filling in" the boxes was to be accomplished by explorers, surveyors, and military forces. In Southeast Asia, the second half of the nineteenth century was the golden age of military surveyors – colonial and, a little later, Thai. They were on the march to put space under the same surveillance which the census-makers were trying to impose on persons. Triangulation by triangulation, war by war, treaty by treaty, the alignment of map and power proceeded. In the apt words of Thongchai:(17)
In terms of most communication theories and common sense, a map is a scientific abstraction of reality. A map merely represents something which already exists objectively "there." in the history I have described, this relationship was reversed. A map anticipated spatial reality, not vice versa. in other words, a map was a model for, rather than a model of, what it purported to represent.... It had become a real instrument to concretize projections on the earths surface. A map was now necessary for the new administrative mechanisms and for the troops to back up their claims.... The discourse of mapping was the paradigm which both administrative and military operations worked within and served.
By the turn of the century, with Prince Damrongs reforms at the Ministry of the Interior (a fine mapping name), the administration of the realm was finally put on a wholly territorial-cartographic basis, following earlier practice in the neighboring colonies.
It would be unwise to overlook the crucial intersection between map and census. For the new map served firmly to break off the infinite series of "Hakkas," "Non-Tamil Sri Lankans," and "Javanese" that the formal apparatus of the census conjured up, by delimiting territorially where, for political purposes, they ended. Conversely, by a sort of demographic triangulation, the census filled in politically the formal topography of the map.
Out of these changes emerged two final avatars of the map (both instituted by the late colonial state) which official nationalisms of twentieth century directly prefigure the Southeast Asia. Fully aware of their interloper status in the distant tropics, but arriving from a civilization in which the legal inheritance and the legal transferability of geographic space had long been established, (18) the Europeans frequently attempted to legitimize the spread of their power by quasi-legal methods. Among the more popular of these was their "inheritance" of the putative sovereignties of native rulers whom the Europeans had eliminated or subjected. Either way, the usurpers were in the business, especially vis-à-vis other Europeans, of reconstructing the property-history of their new possessions. Hence the appearance, late in the nineteenth century especially, of "historical maps," designed to demonstrate, in the new cartographic discourse, the antiquity of specific, tightly bounded territorial units. Through chronologically arranged sequences of such maps, a sort of political-biographical narrative of the realm came into being, sometimes with vast historical depth.(19) In turn, this narrative was adopted, if often adapted, by the nation-states which, in the twentieth century, became the colonial states legatees.(20)
The second avatar was the map-as-logo, Its origins were reasonably innocent – the practice of the imperial states of coloring their colonies on maps with an imperial dye. In Londons imperial maps, British colonies were usually pink-red, French purple-blue, Dutch yellow-brown, and so on. Dyed this way, each colony appeared like a detachable piece of a jigsaw puzzle. As this "jigsaw" effect became normal, each "piece" could be wholly detached from its geographic context. In its final form all explanatory glosses could be summarily removed: lines of longitude and latitude, place names, signs for rivers, seas, and mountains, neighbours. Pure sign, no longer compass to the world. In this shape, the map entered an infinitely reproducible series, available for transfer to posters, official seals, letterheads, magazine and textbook covers, tablecloths, and hotel walls. Instantly recognizable, everywhere visible, the logo-map penetrated deep into the popular imagination, forming a powerful emblem for the anticolonial nationalisms being born.(21)
Modern Indonesia offers us a fine, painful example of this process. In 1828 the first fever-ridden Dutch settlement was made on the island of New Guinea. Although the settlement had to be abandoned in 1836, the Dutch Crown proclaimed sovereignty over that part of the island lying west of 141 degrees longitude (an invisible line which corresponded to nothing on the ground, but boxed in Conrads diminishing white spaces), with the exception of some coastal stretches regarded as under the sovereignty of the Sultan of Tidore. Only in 1901 did The Hague buy out the Sultan, and incorporate West New Guinea into the Netherlands Indies – just in time for logoization. Large parts of the region remained Conrad-white until after World War II; the handful of Dutchmen there were mostly missionaries, mineral-prospectors – and wardens of special prison-camps for diehard radical Indonesian nationalists. The swamps north of Merauke, at the extreme southeastern edge of Dutch New Guinea, were selected as the site of these facilities precisely because the region was regarded as utterly remote from the rest of the colony, and the "stoneage" local population as wholly uncontaminated by nationalist thinking. (22)
The internment, and often interment, there of nationalist martyrs gave West New Guinea a central place in the folklore of the anticolonial struggle, and made it a sacred site in the national imagining: Indonesia Free, from Sabang (at the northwestern tip of Sumatra) to – where else but? – Merauke. It made no difference at all that, aside from the few hundred internees, no nationalists ever saw New Guinea with their own eyes until the 1960s. But Dutch colonial logo-maps sped across in the colony, showing a West New Guinea with nothing to its East, unconsciously reinforced the developing imagined ties. When, in the aftermath of the bitter anticolonial wars of 1945-49, the Dutch were forced to cede sovereignty of the archipelago to a United States of Indonesia, they attempted (for reasons that need not detain us here) to separate West New Guinea once again, keep it temporarily under colonial rule, and prepare it for independent nationhood. Not until 1963 was this enterprise abandoned, as a result of heavy American diplomatic pressure and Indonesian military raids. Only then did President Sukarno visit for the first time, at the age of sixty-two, a region about which he had tirelessly orated for four decades. The subsequent painful relations between the populations of West New Guinea and the emissaries of the independent Indonesian state can be attributed to the fact that Indonesians more or less sincerely regard these populations as "brothers and sisters," while the populations themselves, for the most part, see things very differently.(23)
This difference owes much to census and map, New Guineas remoteness and rugged terrain created over the millennia an extraordinary linguistic fragmentation. When the Dutch left the region in 1963 they estimated that within the 700,000 population there existed well over 200 mostly mutually unintelligible languages.(24) Many of the remoter "tribal" groups were not even aware of one anothers existence. But, especially after 1950, Dutch missionaries and Dutch officials for the first time made serious efforts to "unify" them by taking censuses, expanding communications networks, establishing schools, and erecting supra-"tribal" governmental structures. This effort was launched by a colonial state which, as we noted earlier, was unique in that it had governed the Indies, not primarily via a European language, but through "administrative Malay." (25) Hence West New Guinea was "brought up" in the same language in which Indonesia had earlier been raised (and which became the national language in due course). The irony is that bahasa Indonesia thus became the lingua franca of a burgeoning West New Guinean, West Papuan nationalism.(26)
But what brought the often quarrelling young West Papuan nationalists together, especially after 1963, was the map. Though the Indonesian state changed the region"s name from West Nieuw Guinea, first to Irian Barat (West Irian) and then to Irian Jaya, it read its local reality from the colonial-era birds-eye atlas. A scattering of anthropologists, missionaries and local officials might know and think about the Ndanis, the Asmats, and the Baudis. But the state itself, and through it the Indonesian population as a whole, saw only a phantom "Irianese" (orang Irian) named after the map; because phantom, to be imagined in quasi-logo form: "negroid" features, penis-sheaths, and so on. In a way that reminds us how Indonesia came first to be imagined within the racist structures of the early-twentieth-century Netherlands East Indies, an embryo "Irianese" national community, bounded by Meridian 141 and the neighboring provinces of North and South Moluccas, emerged. At the time when its most prominent and attractive spokesman, Arnold Ap, was murdered by the state in 1984, he was curator of a state-built museum devoted to "Irianese" (provincial) culture.
The link between Aps occupation and assassination is not at all accidental. For museums, and the museumizing imagination, are both profoundly political. That his museum was instituted by a distant Jakarta shows us how the new nation-state of Indonesia learned from its immediate ancestor, the colonial Netherlands East Indies. The present proliferation of museums around Southeast Asia suggests a general process of political inheriting at work. Any understanding of this process requires a consideration of the novel nineteenth-century colonial archaeology that made such museums possible.
Up until the early nineteenth century the colonial rulers in Southeast Asia exhibited very little interest in the antique monuments of the civilizations they had subjected. Thomas Stamford Raffles, ominous emissary from William Joness Calcutta, was the first prominent colonial official not merely to amass a large personal collection of local objets dart, but systematically to study their history.(27) Thereafter, with increasing speed, the grandeurs of the Borobudur, of Angkor, of Pagan, and of other ancient sites were successively disinterred, unjungled, measured, photographed, reconstructed, fenced off, analysed, and displayed.(28) Colonial Archaeological Services became powerful and prestigious institutions, calling on the services of some exceptionally capable scholar officials.(29)
To explore fully why this happened, when it happened, would take us too far afield. It may be enough here to suggest that the change was associated with the eclipse of the commercial-colonial regimes of the two great East India Companies, and the rise of the true modern colony, directly attached to the metropole.(30) The prestige of the colonial state was accordingly now intimately linked to that of its homeland superior. It is noticeable how heavily concentrated archaeological efforts were on the restoration of imposing monuments (and how these monuments began to be plotted on maps for public distribution and edification: a kind of necrological census was under way). No doubt this emphasis reflected general Orientalist fashions. But the substantial funds invested allow us to suspect that the state had its own, non-scientific reasons. Three immediately suggest themselves, of which the last is surely the most important.
In the first place, the timing of the archaeological push coincided with the first political struggle over the states educational policies.(31) "Progressives" – colonials as well as natives – were urging major investments in modern schooling. Against them were arrayed conservatives who feared the long-term consequences of such schooling, and preferred the natives to stay native. In this light, archaeological restorations – soon followed by state-sponsored printed editions of traditional literary texts – can be seen as a sort of conservative educational program, which also served as a pretext for resisting the pressure of the progressives. Second, the formal ideological programme of the reconstructions always placed the builders of the monuments and the colonial natives in a certain hierarchy. In some cases, as in the Dutch East Indies up until the 1930s, the idea was entertained that the builders were actually not of the same "race" as the natives (they were "really" Indian immigrants).(32) In other cases, as in Burma, what was imagined was a secular decadence, such that contemporary natives were no longer capable of their putative ancestors achievements. Seen in this light, the reconstructed monuments, juxtaposed with the surrounding rural poverty, said to the natives: Our very presence shows that you have always been, or have long become, incapable of either greatness or self-rule.
The third reason takes us deeper, and closer to the map. We have seen earlier, in our discussion of the "historical map," how colonial regimes began attaching themself to antiquity as much as conquest, originally for quite straightforward Machiavellian-legalistic reasons. As time passed, however, there was less and less openly brutal talk about right of conquest, and more and more effort to create alternative legitimacies. More and more Europeans were being born in Southeast Asia, and being tempted to make it their home. Monumental archaeology, increasingly linked to tourism, allowed the state to appear as the guardian of a generalized, but also local, Tradition. The old sacred sites were to be incorporated into the map of the colony, and their ancient prestige (which, if this had disappeared, as it often had, the state would attempt to revive) draped around the mappers. This paradoxical situation is nicely illustrated by the fact that the reconstructed monuments often had smartly laid-out lawns around them, and always explanatory tablets, complete with datings, planted here and there. Moreover, they were to be kept empty of people, except for perambulatory tourists (no religious ceremonies or pilgrimages, so far as possible). Museumized this way, they were repositioned as regalia for a secular colonial state.
But, as noted above, a characteristic feature of the instrumentalities of this profane state was infinite reproducibility, a reproducibility made technically possible by print and photography, but politicoculturally by the disbelief of the rulers themselves in the real sacredness of local sites. A sort of progression is detectable everywhere: massive, technically sophisticated archaeological reports, complete with dozens of photographs, recording the process of reconstruction of particular, distinct ruins; Lavishly illustrated books for public consumption, including exemplary plates of all the major sites reconstructed within the colony (so much the better if, as in the Netherlands Indies, Hindu-Buddhist shrines could be juxtaposed to restored Islamic mosques).(33) Thanks to print-capitalism, a sort of pictorial census of the states patrimony becomes available, even if at high cost, to the states subjects; A general logoization, made possible by the profaning processes outlined above. Postage stamps, with their characteristic series – tropical birds, fruits, fauna, why not monuments as well? – are exemplary of this stage. But postcards and schoolroom textbooks follow the same logic. From there it is only a step into the market: Hotel Pagan, Borobudur Fried Chicken, and so on.
While this kind of archaeology, maturing in the age of mechanical reproduction, was profoundly political, it was political at such a deep level that almost everyone, including the personnel of the colonial state (who, by the 1930s, were in most of Southeast Asia 90 per cent native) was unconscious of the fact. It had all become normal and everyday. it was precisely the infinite quotidian reproducibility of its regalia that revealed the real power of the state.
It is probably not too surprising that post-independence states, which exhibited marked continuities with their colonial predecessors, inherited this form of political museumizing. For example, on 9 November 1968, as part of the celebrations commemorating the 15th anniversary of Cambodias independence, Norodom Sihanouk had a large wood and papier-maché replica of the great Bayon temple of Angkor displayed in the national sports stadium in Phnom Penh. (34) The replica was exceptionally coarse and crude, but it served its purpose – instant recognizability via a history of colonial-era logoization. "Ali, our Bayon" – but with the memory of French colonial restorers wholly banished. French-reconstructed Angkor Wat, again in "jigsaw" form, became the central symbol of the successive flags of Sihanouks royalist, Lon Nols militarist, and Pol Pots Jacobin regimes.
More striking still is evidence of inheritance at a more popular level. One revealing example is a series of paintings of episodes in the national history commissioned by Indonesias Ministry of Education in the 1950s. The paintings were to be mass-produced and distributed throughout the primary-school system; young Indonesians were to have on the walls of their classrooms – everywhere – visual representations of their countrys past. Most of the backgrounds were done in the predictable sentimental-naturalist style of early-twentieth-century commercial art, and the human figures taken either from colonial-era museum dioramas or from the popular wayang orang pseudohistorical folk-drama. The most interesting of the series, however, offered children a representation of the Borobudur. In reality, this colossal monument, with its 504 Buddha images, 1,460 pictorial and 1,212 decorative stone panels, is a fantastic storehouse of ancient Javanese sculpture. But the well-regarded artist imagines the marvel in its ninth century A.D. heyday with instructive perversity. The Borobudur is painted completely white, with not a trace of sculpture visible. Surrounded by well-trimmed lawns and tidy treelined avenues, not a single human being is in sight.(35) One might argue that this emptiness reflects the unease of a contemporary Muslim painter in the face of an ancient Buddhist reality. But I suspect that what we are really seeing is an unselfconscious lineal descendant of colonial archaeology: the Borobudur as state regalia, and as "of course, thats it" logo. A Borobudur all the more powerful as a sign for national identity because of everyones awareness of its location in an infinite series of identical Borobudurs.
Interlinked with one another, then, the census, the map and the museum illuminate the late colonial states style of thinking about its domain. The "warp" of this thinking was a totalizing classificatory grid, which could be applied with endless flexibility to anything under the states real or contemplated control: peoples, regions, religions, languages, products, monuments, and so forth. The effect of the grid was always to be able to my of anything that it was this, not that; it belonged here, not there. It was bounded, determinate, and therefore – in principle – countable. (The comic classificatory and subclassificatory census boxes entitled "Other" concealed all reallife anomalies by a splendid bureaucratic trompe loeil). The "weft" was what one could call serialization: the assumption that the world was made up of replicable plurals. The particular always stood as a provisional representative of a series, and was to be handled in this light. This is why the colonial state imagined a Chinese series before any Chinese, and a nationalist series before the appearance of any nationalists.
No one has found a better metaphor for this frame of mind than the great Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who entitled the final volume of his tetralogy on the colonial period Rumah Kaca – the Class House. It is an image, as powerful as Benthams Panopticon, of total surveyability. For the colonial state did not merely aspire to create, under its control, a human landscape of perfect visibility; the condition of this "visibility" was that everyone, everything, had (as it were) a serial number.(36) This style of imagining did not come out of thin air. It was the product of the technologies of navigation, astronomy, horology, surveying, photography and print, to say nothing of thedeep driving power of capitalism.
Map and census thus shaped the grammar which would in due course make possible "Burma" and "Burmese," "Indonesia" and "Indonesians." But the concretization of these possibilities – concretizations which have a powerful life today, long after the colonial state has disappeared – owed much to the colonial states peculiar imagining of history and power. Archaeology was an unimaginable enterprise in precolonial Southeast Asia; it was adopted in uncolonized Siam late in the game, and after the colonial states manner. It created the series "ancient niontiments," segmented within the classificatory, geographic-demographic box "Netherlands Indies," and "British Burma." Conceived within this profane series, each ruin became available for surveillance and infinite replication. As the colonial states archaeological service made it technically possible to assemble the series in mapped and photographed form, the state itself could regard the series, up historical time, as an album of its ancestors. The key thing was never the specific Borobudur, nor the specific Pagan, in which the state had no substantial interest and with which it had only archaeological connections. The replicable series, however, created a historical depth of field which was easily inherited by the states postcolonial successor. The final logical outcome was the logo – of "Pagan" or "The Philippines," it made little difference – which by its emptiness, contextlessness, visual memorableness, and infinite reproducibility in every direction brought census-and map, warp and woof, into an inerasable embrace.
1. Charles Hirschman, "The Meaning and Measurement of Ethnicity in Malaysia: An Analysis of Census Classifications,"J. of Asian Studies, 46:3 (August 1987), pp. 552-82; and "The Making of Race in Colonial Malaya: Political Economy and Racial ideology" Sociological Forum, 1:2 (Spring 1986), pp. 330-62.
2 . An astonishing variety of "Europeans" were enumerated right through the colonial era. But whereas in 1881 they were still grouped primarily under the headings "resident," "floating," and "prisoners," by 1911 they were fraternizing as members of a (white) race'. It is agreeable that up to the end, the census-makers were visibly uneasy about where to place those they marked as "Jews."
3. William Henry Scott, Cracks in the Parchment Curtain, chapter 7, "Filipino Class Structure in the Sixteenth Century."
4 . in first half of the seventeenth century, Spanish settlements in the archipelago came under repeated attack from the forces of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the greatest "transnational" corporation of the era. For their survival, the pious Catholic settlers owed a great debt to the arch-heretical Protector, who kept Amsterdam's back to the wall for much of his rule. Had the VOC been successful, Manila, rather than Batavia (Jakarta), might have become the centre of the "Dutch" imperium in Southeast Asia. In 1762, London seized Manila from Spain, and held it for almost two years. It is entertaining to note that Madrid only got it back in exchange for, of all places, Florida, and the other "Spanish" possessions east of the Mississippi. Had the negotiations proceeded differently, the archipelago could have been politically linked with Malaya and Singapore during the nineteenth century.
5 . Mason C. Hoadley, "State vs. Ki Aria Marta Ningrat (1696) and Tian Siangko (1720-21)" (unpublished ms., 1982).
6. See, e.g., Edgar Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 1850-1898, chapters I and 2.
7. The galleon trade – for which Manila was, for over two centuries, the entrepot – exchanged Chinese silks and porcelain for Mexican silver.
8 . See chapter 7, above (p. 125) for mention of French colonialism's struggle to sever Buddhism in Cambodia from its old links with Siam.
9. See William Roff, The Origins of Malay Nationalism, pp. 72-4.
10. See Harry J. Benda, The Crescent and the Rising Sun, chapters 1-2.
11. Thongchai Winichakul, "Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of Siam" (Ph,D. Thesis, University of Sydney, 1988).
12. Richard Muir, Modern Political Geography, p. 119.
13. Thongchai, "Siam Mapped," pp. 105-10, 286.
14. For a full discussion of old conceptions of power in Java (which, with minor differences, corresponded to that existing in Old Siam), see my Language and Power, chapter 1.
15. Thongchai, "Siam Mapped," p. 110.
16. David S. Landes, Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World, chapter 9.
17. "Siam Mapped," p. 310.
18. I do not mean merely the inheritance and sale of private property in land in the usual sense. More important was the European practice of political transfers of lands, with their populations, via dynastic marriages. Princesses, on marriage, brought their husbands duchies and petty principalities, and these transfers were formally negotiated and "signed." The tag Bella gerant alii, tu, felix Austria, nube! would have been inconceivable for any state in precolonial Asia.
19. See Thongchai, "Siam Mapped,"p. 387, on Thai ruling class absorption of this style of imagining. "According to these historical maps, moreover, the geobody is not a modern particularity but is pushed back more than a thousand years. Historical maps thus help reject any suggestion that nationhood emerged only in the recent past, and the perspective that the present Siam was a result of ruptures is precluded. So is any idea that intercourse between Siam and the European powers was the parent of Siam."
20. This adoption was by no means a Machiavellian ruse. The early nationalists in all the Southeast Asian colonies had their consciousnesses profoundly shaped by the "format" of the colonial state and its institutions.
21. in the writings of Nick Joaquin, the contemporary Philippines, preeminent man of letters – and an indubitable patriot – one can see how powerfully the emblem works on the most sophisticated intelligence. Of General Antonio Luna, tragic hero of the anti-American struggle of 1898-99, Joaquin writes that he hurried to "perform the role that had been instinctive in the Creole for three centuries: the defense of the form of the Philippines from a foreign disrupter." A Question of Heroes, p. 164 (italics added). Elsewhere he observes, astonishingly, that Spain's "Filipino allies, converts, mercenaries sent against the Filipino rebel may have kept the archipelago Spanish and Christian, but they also kept it from falling apart;" and that they "were fighting (whatever the Spaniards may have intended) to keep the Filipino one." Ibid., p. 58.
22. See Robin Osborne, Indonesia's Secret War, The Guerrilla Struggle in Irian Jaya, pp.
23. Since 1963 there have been many bloody episodes in West New Guinea (now called Irian Jaya – Great Irian), partly as a result of the militarization of the Indonesian state since 1965, partly because of the intermittently effective guerrilla activities of the so-called OPM (Organization for a Free Papua). But these brutalities pale by comparison with Jakarta's savagery in ex-Portuguese East Timor, where in the first three years after the 1976 invasion an estimated one-third of the population of 600,000 died from war, famine, disease and "resettlement". I do not think it a mistake to suggest that the difference derives in part from East Timor's absence from the logos of the Netherlands East Indies and, until 1976, of Indonesia's.
24. Osborne, Indonesia's Secret War, p. 2.
25. See above, p. 110
.26. The best sign for this is that the anti-Indonesian nationalist guerrilla organization's name, Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM), is composed of Indonesian words.
27. In 1811, the East India Company's forces seized all the Dutch possessions in the Indies (Napol"on had absorbed the Netherlands into France the previous year). Raffles ruled in Java till 1815. His monumental History of Java appeared in 1817, two years prior to his founding of Singapore.
28. The museumizing of the Borobudur, the largest Buddhist stupa in the world, exemplifies this process. In 1814, the Raffles regime "discovered" it, and had it unjungled. In 1845, the self-promoting German artist-adventurer Schaefer persuaded the Dutch authorities in Batavia to pay him to make the first daguerrotypes. In 1851, Batavia sent a team of state employees, led by civil engineer F.C. Wilsen, to make a systematic survey of the bas-reliefs and to produce a complete, "scientific" set of lithographs. In 1874, Dr. C. Leemans, Director of the museum of Antiquities in Leiden, published, at the behest of the Minister of Colonies, the first major scholarly monograph; he relied heavily on Wilsen's lithographs, never having visited the site himself. In the 1880s, the professional photographer Cephas produced a thorough modern-style photographic survey. In 1901, the colonial regime established an Oudheidkundige Commissie (Commission on Antiquities). Between 1907 and 1911, the Commission oversaw the complete restoration of the stupa, carried out at state expense by a team under the civil engineer Van Erp. Doubtless in recognition of this success, the Commission was promoted, in 1913, to an Oudheidkundigen Dienst (Antiquities Service), which kept,the monument spick and span until the end of the colonial period. See C. Leemans, Boro-Boudour, pp. ii-lv; and NJ. Krom, Inleiding tot de Hindoe-Javaansche Kunst, I, chapter 1.
29. ViceroyCurzon (1899-1905), an antiquities buff who, writes Groslier, "energized" the Archaeological Survey of India, put things very nicely: "It is ... equally our duty to dig and discover, to classify, reproduce and describe, to copy and decipher, and to cherish and conserve." (Foucault could not have said it better). In 1899, the Archaeological Department of Burma – then part of British India – was founded, and soon began the restoration of Pagan. The previous year, the École Francaise d'Extreme-Orient was established in Saigon, followed almost at once by a Directorate of Museums and Historical Monuments of Indochina. Immediately after the French seizure of Siemreap and Battambang from Siam in 1907, an Angkor Conservancy was established to Curzonize Southeast Asia's most awe-inspiring ancient monuments. See Bernard Philippe Groslier, Indochina, pp. 155-7, 174-7. As noted above, the Dutch colonial Antiquities Commission was founded in 1901. The coincidence in dates – 1899, 1898, 1901 – shows not only the keenness with which the rival colonial powers observed one another, but sea-changes in imperialism under way by the turn of the century. As was to be expected, independent Siam ambled along more slowly. its Archaeological Service was only set up in 1924, its National Museum in 1926. See Charles Higham, The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia, p. 25.
30. The VOC was liquidated, in bankruptcy, in 1799. The colony of the Netherlands Indies, however, dates from 1815, when the independence of The Netherlands was restored by the Holy Alliance, and Willem I of Orange put on a Dutch throne first invented in 1806 by Napol"on and his kindly brother Louis. The British East India Company survived till the great Indian Mutiny of 1857.
31. The Oudheidkundige Commissie was established by the same government that (in 1901) inaugurated the new "Ethical Policy" for the Indies, a policy that for the first time aimed to establish a Western-style system of education for substantial numbers of the colonized. Governor-General Paul Doumer (1897-1902) created both the Directorate of Museums and Historical Monuments of Indochina and the colony's modern educational apparatus. in Burma, the huge expansion of higher education – which between 1900 and 1940 increased the number of secondary-school students eightfold, from 27,401 to 233,543, and of college students twentyfold, from 115 to 2,365 – began just as the Archaeological Department of Burma swung into action. See Robert H. Taylor, The State in Burma, p. 114.
32. Influenced in part by this kind of thinking, conservative Thai intellectuals, archaeologists, and officials persist to this day in attributing Angkor to the mysterious Khom, who vanished without a trace, and certainly have no connection with today's despised Cambodians.
33. A fine late-blooming example is Ancient Indonesian Art, by the Dutch scholar, AJ. Bernet Kempers, self-described as "former Director of Archaeology in Indonesia (sic)." On pages 24-5 one finds maps showing the location of the ancient sites. The first is especially instructive, since its rectangular shape (framed on the east by the 141st Meridian) willy-nilly includes Philippine Mindanao as well as BritishMalaysian north Borneo, peninsular Malaya, and Singapore. All are blank of sites, indeed of any naming whatsoever, except for a single, inexplicable "Kedah." The switch from Hindu-Buddhism to Islam occurs after Plate 340.
34. See Kambuja, 45 (15 December 1968), for some curious photographs.
35. The discussion here draws on material analysed more fully in Language and Power, chapter 5.
36. An exemplary policy-outcome of Glass House imaginings – an outcome of which ex-political prisoner Pramoedya is painfully aware – is the classificatory ID card that all adult Indonesians must now carry at all times. This ID is isomorphic with the census – it represents a sort of political census, with special punchings for those in the sub-series "subversives" and "traitors." It is notable that this style of census was only perfected after the achievement of national independence.