Imperial Durabilities in Our Times


a John Hope Franklin Center Book

More about this series

Book Pages: 448 Illustrations: 4 illustrations Published: November 2016

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Sociology > Social Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Postcolonial Theory

How do colonial histories matter to the urgencies and conditions of our current world? How have those histories so often been rendered as leftovers, as "legacies" of a dead past rather than as active and violating forces in the world today? With precision and clarity, Ann Laura Stoler argues that recognizing "colonial presence" may have as much to do with how the connections between colonial histories and the present are expected to look as it does with how they are expected to be. In Duress, Stoler considers what methodological renovations might serve to write histories that yield neither to smooth continuities nor to abrupt epochal breaks. Capturing the uneven, recursive qualities of the visions and practices that imperial formations have animated, Stoler works through a set of conceptual and concrete reconsiderations that locate the political effects and practices that imperial projects produce: occluded histories, gradated sovereignties, affective security regimes, "new" racisms, bodily exposures, active debris, and carceral archipelagos of colony and camp that carve out the distribution of inequities and deep fault lines of duress today.


"Duress: Imperial Durabilities In Our Times is a timely book. It can be read as both a work of postcolonial analysis and a methodological guide to conceptual history. Ann Laura Stoler’s willingness to wrestle uneasy mercurial modern terminologies into valuable approaches to the histories of imperial formations is refreshing and exemplary." — Ed Jones, LSE Review of Books

"Stoler adds different insights and contexts to much material that is not new. Perhaps one test of the value of this is that it is difficult to read Duress without applying its insights both to the ways we engage in ethnographic enterprises and to current situations. Stoler provides the reader with much to consider and underscores the urgency of doing so."  — James Phillips, American Ethnologist

"Stoler’s book is both timely and innovative.  . . . [Duress] takes us on a journey that looks at the genealogy of imperial violence, its traces in the present and its continuous re-shaping of contemporary societies on the one hand, and on the other, how new stories emerge and counterdiscourse shapes imperial violence." — Olivette Otele, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

“Stoler invites her readers to look carefully at and then beyond the categories and concepts that have misrepresented imperialism with the implicit aim of reckoning.”
  — Riley Linebaugh, KULT

"Innovative and thoughtful. . . . Stoler has for a long time now moved between different concepts, disciplines, and subdisciplines with an agility that is inspiring. . . . A pressing and timely book that will be of interest to all concerned with questions on liberation and entrapment." — Shirin Saeidi, Journal of International and Global Studies

"Stoler casts her net wide and deep and convincingly shows that colonialism is more complex, and more present, than most histories acknowledge." — Aviva Chomsky, American Historical Review

"A tour de force. Stoler’s encyclopedic knowledge of the literature is impressive and the book might be used as a reference for those hoping to move the needle in postcolonial studies—to advance the agenda of the subfield . . .  Stoler has ably demonstrated that Foucault’s work is relevant to locales beyond France. And yet, I am left to ask whether, in a sense, Stoler might simply stand alone, without Foucault, now more than ever as her own theoretical proficiencies are brought to bear on our colonial present." — Anne-Maria Makhulu, Anthropological Quarterly

"Duress is a broad-ranging, conceptually rich book that synthesizes the author’s forty years work rethinking the history of modern colonialism." — Richard Candida Smith, Society of US Intellectual History

"Concept-work, as performed by Ann Laura Stoler, is always concerned with very concrete objects and situations. However, the stakes are highly speculative and ethical: to reform our understanding of time, as it tacitly inflects the common perception of things 'postcolonial,' under the premise of a past that was fatal, or should never have been. Tracking the duress of the colony within our present experience becomes an injunction to proceed from occlusion to insecurity, to transform our historical selves." — Etienne Balibar, author of Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology

"Duress is an extraordinary excavation of colonialism’s recurrent conceptualizations of massive zones of ecological ruination, human vulnerability, and affective disregard. Ann Laura Stoler is laser-like in the forensics of those imperial pursuits—global and across centuries—whose accumulating sedimentations have all but naturalized unremitting states of emergency, eternal war, and perpetual exceptions to the rule of law. This book’s comprehensive clarity about the histories of our present is a gift of vision that, if heeded, might point the distance toward reckoning and repair." — Patricia J. Williams, author of The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor

"Pursuing her uncompromising quest for the invisible or unthinkable traces of our colonial past, Ann Laura Stoler questions and complicates self-evident genealogies. Extending her critical reflection to multiple scenes across continents, she offers a beautifully written book on how people and societies endure this everlasting yet occluded or silenced presence of imperial debris." — Didier Fassin, Professor of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton


Availability: In stock
Price: $30.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ann Laura Stoler is Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research and the author and editor of many books, including Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination and Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  ix

Appreciations  xi

Part I. Concept Work: Fragilities and Filiations

1. Critical Incisions: On Concept Work and Colonial Recursions  3

2. Raw Cuts: Palestine, Israel, and (Post)Colonial Studies  37

3. A Deadly Embrace: Of Colony and Camp  68

4. Colonial Aphasia: Disabled histories and Race in France  122

Part II. Recursions in a Colonial Mode

5. On Degrees of Imperial Sovereignty  173

6. Reason Aside: Enlightenment Projects and Empire's Security Regimes  205

7. Racial Regimes of Truth  237

Part III. "The Rot Remains"

8. Racist Visions and the Common Sense of France's "Extreme" Right  269

9. Bodily Exposures: Beyond Sex?  305

10. Imperial Debris and Ruination  336

Bibliography  381

Index  419
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6267-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6252-4
Publicity material