The Panoptical Archive
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Archeion “There is no political power without control of the archives ,” Jacques Derrida writes.1 There is no power without archives either. Since the third millennium BC, writing served recording and archiving for kings and gods, in palaces and temples. Etymology links archives to the Greek archeion, the seat of the ruling power. Although the Domesday Book was not used very frequently , as a symbol it associated archiving with royal power, like the Book of Judgment was an expression of divine power.2 The early modern states, monarchies, and the church were information societies, their data collection and use, apart from documenting internal decision making, focusing on anance, taxation, and (mainly locally ) the recording of people. The modern nation-state, however, “aspired to ‘take in charge’ the physical and human resources of the nation and make them more productive ,” as James Scott writes.3 It therefore mobilized administrative power for surveillance and paciacation and centralized the collection of data on various aspects of the population and society it had to “embrace.”4 This is demonstrated powerfully in the European states governed according to the Napoleonic model. That model is characterized by an omnipresent government, based on a uniform division of the territory and a uniformly organized administrative apparatus armed with the tools that would later identify the ideal bureaucracy.5 Appetite for Data The bureaucracy of the emerging nation-state depended on paperasserie, the panoptical ales closed with red tape, a dependency leading to an enormous growth of records production.6 The Netherlands provides an example.7 In 1795 the Batavian Revolution—inspired by the French Revolution—ended the federal republic of the United Netherlands. The constitution of 1798 made the new nation -state a unitary one. It was ruled according to the Napoleonic model, even before becoming legally part of the Napoleonic empire in 1811. The volume of archives created in the so-called Batavian-French period (1795– 1813) in the province of Friesland is 172 running meters, which equals 50 percent of all government records created in that province during the preceding three hundred years. For the province of Gelderland the agure is 25 percent . Even in Holland (before 1795 as the most powerful of the Dutch provinces, a strenuous records creator) the archives from 1795 to 1813 measure 285 meters, equaling 17 percent of all government archives in that province since the Middle Ages. As Clive Church remarks, “No matter that revolutionaries think of themselves as liberators they seem to end up by increasing the amount of ofacialdom and red tape.”8 The paperwork had to still the “growing appetite for data” of the nation-state.9 The new government had a pressing and chronic need for information on society.10 Everything had become property of the Dutch people and had to be deployed for the proat of the nation. National politics and power, national discipline and surveillance had to be built. These were new challenges, as new as the use of qualitative and quantitative statistical information as input for policy, legislation, and control. New also was that the data were collected and used for regional and local comparison at a national level. A new discipline was introduced (from Germany): statistics “that extensive knowledge of all the beneats which a nation really possesses or may yield,” to quote Goldberg, the arst Dutch minister of economic affairs, in 1800.11 144 ⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮ The Panoptical Archive Eric Ketelaar ⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯ The explosion of information necessitated new methods for storage and retrieval. New record-keeping systems were developed, based upon the pre-1795 experiences but adapted according to the new needs of the unitary state. A little later, the French introduced further and more radical changes in record keeping, as they did in all conquered countries as one of the measures of the Napoleonic model.12 The archive became not just the interface between knowledge and the state;13 it became the panoptical archive. Panopticism In the eighteenth century, Jeremy Bentham designed a panopticon, a prison where the inmates were kept under constant surveillance (pan-optical) by guards in a central control tower who could not be seen by the prisoners.14 Bentham believed the power of the system to be not only that it locked up prisoners in their cells but, more so, that it instilled in the prisoners the self-consciousness of knowing that they were constantly being watched and guarded. Real panopticons have seldom been built.15 Yet the concept of the panoptical building inspired the architecture not only of...


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