Essays in Romanticism

Death of a Beautiful Moor Woman: Obstinate Clerks and the Form of Evidence in the British Colonial Archive

Essays in Romanticism (2012), 19, (1), 83–102.

Abstract

This article studies the production, transmission, and reception of a cluster of archival documents about an alleged abduction and murder of a "beautiful Moor woman" in the colonial town of Madras in 1776. The papers provide evidence of interpretive commotion among late eighteenth-century colonial bureaucrats—writers and readers of colonial documentation—about the plausibility of the different versions of the surprising archival narrative about an indigenous woman in India. Their discussion about proper forms of documentation ties plausibility to ideological positions regarding the nature and legitimacy of imperial rule, to the colonizers' treatment of indigenous rulers as subjects or allies, to the role of women in the colonial encounter, and to the generative force of literary genres in shaping official reports from the colony. A study of the nature and status of archival documents as narratives caught up in political, social, and literary history, the article reflects on our definitions of and uses for different kinds of writing, the possibility of demarcation between literary and historical writing, and the relevance of vanishing female subjects in the imperial archive.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Jokic, Olivera