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Paperwork and Political Thought: Notes Toward a Future History

Date and Time: 
Thursday, November 12, 2020. 12:00 PM - 01:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Zoom
Workshop: 
History of Political Thought 2020
Meeting Description: 

The meeting will feature Asheesh Kapur Siddique, assistant professor in the Department of History at UMass Amherst. Participants are expected to read this paper prior to the seminar: Asheesh for Stanford

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Professor Siddique is a historian of early America, early modern Europe, and the British empire whose research and pedagogy explores the role of collecting, managing, and using knowledge to the history of state formation and governance. He is working on three book projects. The first, Rule Through Paper: Archive, Indigeneity, and Modernity in the Governance of the British Empire, explores the relationship between archival and linguistic knowledge as tools of governance in the British empire in both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The book compares how imperial bureaucrats deployed these different tools in the British Atlantic world and in British Asia; and explains why archives gradually came to be seen as repositories for ‘historical’ knowledge rather than resources for ‘administration.’ The second, The Archival Origins of the Revolutionary Americas, examines the ideological and material origins of the first written histories of late eighteenth century Atlantic world revolutions through a prosopography of the lives and methods of late eighteenth and nineteenth century historical writers and documentary editors in North America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The third, Legal Meanings: Intention and Method in the United States From 1787 to the Present, is a history of the idea in American culture and politics that law (both constitutional and statutory) possesses a coherent intention; and of the methods of reading and research through which politicians, judges, lawyers, and activists have claimed such an intention could be discerned.

Professor Siddique was trained at Columbia University (PhD, 2016), the University of Oxford (MPhil, 2009), and Princeton University (AB, 2007). From 2016-2018, he was a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Southern California. From 2018-2019, he was a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Humanities & Information at Penn State University. His research has been funded by institutions such as the American Philosophical Society, the Huntington Library, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, and the Social Science Research Council.

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