Introduction: Classification and its Discontents

Liz Conor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


Categorical analysis pervades scholarly research. Yet types, and the typologies that catalogue them, have been unexaminedframeworks in cultural histories. Types certainly pervade studies as types, yet the typologies they are nested within, asoverarching and conjoined descriptive orders, remain largely unexamined outside the social sciences or histories of ideas. Assuch social kinds are rarely historicized or theorized beyond documenting their meaning, presence and less often, theirrecurrence. While it is widely accepted that categories and standards pervade knowledge and language systems, fromcomparative anatomy to linguistic etymology, colloquial typecasting is yet to be considered as a discursive practice. Yet sincethe voyages of exploration the arrangement of new botanical specimens into networked zoological categories wasaccompanied by the designation of racial kinds through typecasting, and these popular types were often transcribed into print,and very often credited with the empiricity of natural history. The purpose of this collection is understanding the operation oftypes and typologies in colonial thought and inaugurating theories of types that can account for the transferral of categoriesacross knowledge registers. The ideas canvassed seek to account for the material basis of types in print, and their valenciesacross epochs, and the ways they impact on one another and how they interact with invaded cosmologies. The intention of thiscollection is to account for the classificatory tendencies, or taxonomic fields, which colonial types can be situated within andquery whether the cultural tendency for typologies was intensified within colonial perceptual relations. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-173
Number of pages19
JournalInterventions: International journal of postcolonial studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • classification
  • colonial types
  • type
  • typecasting
  • typology

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