Abstract

Abstract:

This article argues that Thomas Jeffersons Notes on the State of Virginia should be understood as a work of statistics, part of the paradigm shift from a classical model of sovereignty to a modern biopolitics. In the eighteenth century, statistical writings were descriptions of states and colonies that used numerical data to analyze and forecast economic and demographic developments. In Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson considers both the maintenance of a "healthy" ratio between settlers and territory and the ensuring of a demographic majority of the white settler population to be vital to the well-being and long-term survival of Virginia. Reading Notes as statistics allows it to become legible as a program for a settler colonial biopolitics, including Jefferson's proposal for a biospatial exchange of populations and the absorption of indigenous and mixed-race persons into the dominant settler collective.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-147X
Print ISSN
0012-8163
Pages
pp. 69-96
Launched on MUSE
2019-02-08
Open Access
No
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