chapter  4
15 Pages

“Standard deviations”: On archiving the awkward classes in northern Peru


In this paper I examine the forces that structure what may be known and recorded about groups and activities that do not fi t within the normative political projects of governing regimes. I suggest that offi cial representations of such awkward groups of people and kinds of social activity (hereafter, the “awkward classes”) tend to follow a standardized script, in which what is knowable is refracted through a lens or fi lter of a very specifi c sort.1 It is offi cially endorsed understandings of the ordinary and the everyday, I suggest, that act as the prism through which groups and activities deemed awkward, suspect, or out of place come to be seen, understood and recorded.