Haunted by Empire is a volume of a peculiar and awkward sort: one whose
unconventional process of its making. As an anthropologist and student of
European colonial cultures for some decades, I had never thought to edit a
Organization of American Historians for spring 2000 that might speak com-
paratively to intimacies of empire. Vince Rafael, Peggy Pascoe, and Ramón
Gutiérrez—all participants on the panel—shared generously in that open-
ing conversation. Spurred by an enthusiastic audience and encouraged by
some avid interlocutors, most notably Nancy Cott and Estelle Friedman, my
essay went to the Journal of American History, a forum for which I would
not ordinarily write nor, as it turned out, did I know how to address. The
jah’s editor, Joanne Meyerowitz, provided exacting and enabling counsel,
pushing for a firm grounding of the essay’s comparative claims and then in-
viting a diverse range of historians to respond to them.
WhenitappearedinJanuary2002,KenWissoker,editor-in-chiefof Duke
University Press, proposed something further: a slim book of essays elicited
by my own. I approached Nancy Cott, Linda Gordon, Amy Kaplan, and
Martha Hodes, who generously sat down at nyu one hot day that spring to
imaginewho might contribute and how to fosteran organic exchange rather
than a dispersed edited volume. Five contributors mushroomed to fifteen
and a specific commission for them: not responses to my initial foray but
essays that would take directions—resonant or dissonant—that their own
historical contexts and disciplinary concerns might compel or suggest. We
Previous Page Next Page