The Indaganda Survey of the Prussian Frontier

The Built World, Logistical Power, and Bureaucratic Knowledge in the Polish Partitions, 1772–1806


  • Kathryn M. Olesko



bureaucratic knowledge, logistical power, technology, Prussia, Polish Partitions


The Indaganda is an obscure but widely used survey designed by Prussian administrators to gather territorial information, especially about provinces acquired in the Polish Partitions (1772–1795). This essay uses the Indaganda of South Prussia—a highly urbanized province annexed in the Second Partition—as a nodal point in Prussia’s efforts to manage and control territory by using material means to transform the natural and built worlds. Prussian patterns of eighteenth-century infrastructure development were filtered through this survey, eliciting information that formed a knowledge base for bureaucratic administration, infrastructure development, and cartographic visualizations. The Indaganda and its implications for the built world were expressions of the state’s exercise of logistical power: the use of material means to insert its presence into daily life, to assert its prerogative to control things and people, and to express its right to govern both. Finally, this essay argues that the bureaucratic curation of technical knowledge, which operationalized logistics, facilitated the integration of technical experts into the Prussian state bureaucracy.

Author Biography

  • Kathryn M. Olesko

    Georgetown University, US






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