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Silencing the past : power and the…
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Silencing the past : power and the production of history (udgave 1995)

af Michel-Rolph Trouillot

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
7392030,961 (4.33)19
In this provocative analysis of historical narrative, Michel-Rolph Trouillot demonstrates how power operates, often invisibly, at all stages in the making of history to silence certain voices. From the West's failure to acknowledge the Haitian Revolution, the most successful slave revolt in history, to the continued debate over denials of the Holocaust, and the meaning of Columbus's arrival in the Americas, Trouillot shows us that history is not simply the recording of facts and events, but a process of actively enforced silences, some unconscious, others quite deliberate.… (mere)
Medlem:floating_gardener
Titel:Silencing the past : power and the production of history
Forfattere:Michel-Rolph Trouillot
Info:Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press, c1995.
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History af Michel-Rolph Trouillot

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Overview:
There is power in the production of history. History is produced by competing groups and individuals. Competitors with uneven contribution. Competitors who do not have equal access to the production of history. While some competitors leave many traces to be left to be used as sources, others are silent for their lack of traces left behind. A seeming consensus hides a history of conflict. A conflict between past and present narrators. Humans are both agents in history, and history’s narrators. History incorporates what happened and the process about what happened.

Power shapes the narrative. An integral part and cannot be removed from the narrative. How history happened cannot be separated from who wields power. Power to include or exclude information. Power to share information, or to silence information. What is referenced and the silences of what is not, are determined within the production of history. From the creation of the sources, to the assembly of the information, to the retrieval of information in the process of making a narrative, to finding the retrospective significance. Silences are inherent in the historical record. For some events and experiences leave behind sources, while others do not. Even within sources, the narrator chooses which to use and exclude. The process of historical production is shown using the Haitian Revolution, slavery, and Cristopher Columbus.

Positivist or Constructivist?
There are two major schools of thought on history which are the positivist, and constructivists. Those who are influenced by positivism, believe in the separation between historic facts and how those facts are narrated. Those who are influenced by constructivism, do not separate facts and the narration. Constructivist see a historical narrative as a fiction among others. Constructivists do not consider the sociohistorical process.

There is more to the production of history than the dichotomy between positivism and constructivism. The author rejects claims about people being prisoners of the past, and rejects claims about purely socially constructed history.

Historical narrative needs to take account of the distinction and overlap between process and narrative. To embrace the ambiguity. The production of history occurs within context.

How Is Historical Fact Made?
There is a difference between a fake and a fiction. Fabricating sources and evidence produces a fake, as they violate the claims to historical truth. Rules of history that is different in time and place. History is not just fiction, for history leaves behind material evidence that limit the range of narratives, while also setting the boundaries for future historical narratives.

Facts always have meaning, for they only become facts because they mattered, no matter how minimally. Facts are not created equal. Facts are interdependent with other facts. Each fact has meaning in relation to other facts. Facts compete with other facts for room, earning the right to exist among other facts. Some facts will be requalified with new facts. New knowledge must acknowledge and contradict previous understandings.

Silences are born contemporaneously with the found traces. While some events are noted immediately, other are not. Some facts leave behind a physical or psychological impact, other do not. Unequal experiences by the agents of history, leads to uneven historical power to inscribe their traces. Sources build on these traces, which privilege some over others. Sources choose what to include and exclude. Sources imply choices. Some facts make it to history, from others there is only silence. Silences are inherent in history, for historic facts always have missing parts. Some parts are recorded, while others are left out.

Assembling archives is not a passive act. They prepare facts for historical intelligibility. They set the rules for credibility and interdependence. Provide the choices of which stories have relevance, which stories have significance. Classifications and terminologies matter. Depending on the lexicon used, determines the categories an event goes into.

The Unthinkable:
There are events that are unthinkable. Events for which alternatives cannot be conceived. Unthinkable events that defy how the questions are phrased. When the unthinkable events do happen, the event is recast to fit a reality of possibilities.

Caveats?
The examples used showcase the production of history are limited. They were not meant to and do not provide a comprehensive understanding of the events. ( )
  Eugene_Kernes | Jun 4, 2024 |
While much of this book focuses on the history of his native country of Haiti, Trouillot's goal is broader: an epistemological re-evaluation of how our perceptions of history are formed. Of how we understand history to be true. Of how opinions come to be historical fact. It's not light reading, but easy enough to absorb when he moves from the theoretical to the specific. He goes beyond the commonplace "History is written by the victors" to demonstrate by example the four stages leading to this end result.

Those four stages are the moments when decisions are made, intentionally or otherwise, that affect what we come to perceive as history: at the time original records are (or are not) created; at the time those records are selected for retention; at the time they are retrieved and put into a narrative; and at the time that narrative is evaluated for significance. Omissions ("silences") at any point can alter our interpretation of past events.

Silences result not just from disdain or prejudice, but from the fact that the reality is "unthinkable" to the recorder/archiver/narrative developer/evaluator. The Haitian revolution of 1791-1804 provides a vivid example: that the slaves could have, on their own, desired, organized and successfully concluded their own revolutionary war was an idea inconceivable by the French or most others interpreting the record. This section brought to mind a book I read not long ago, [b:Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia|40536236|Sea People The Puzzle of Polynesia|Christina Thompson|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1542039373l/40536236._SY75_.jpg|19226650]. The reality of how the South Pacific was colonized remained unknown (at least outside Polynesian oral history) for hundreds of years because Europeans simply couldn't accept that the Polynesian outriggers could have travelled the distances it has since been proved that they can.

The book is a brilliant framework, illustrating the inherent reasons that the true histories of blacks, women, native populations, and others have been omitted from history. Since we continue to struggle with the ways in which these perceptions mold actions and opinions in the 21st century these are ideas that bear thinking about. ( )
  BarbKBooks | Aug 15, 2022 |
Even if you aren't interested in the historiography side of things, the case study on Haiti's missing history is worth picking up the book. It's short and accessable. ( )
  Sennie_V | Mar 22, 2022 |
It was very good and informational and interesting I was just very bored at times. It was like a textbook. But also not. I really liked the ending the most. ( )
  barajash29 | Jan 22, 2020 |
Talked about enticingly here.
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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In this provocative analysis of historical narrative, Michel-Rolph Trouillot demonstrates how power operates, often invisibly, at all stages in the making of history to silence certain voices. From the West's failure to acknowledge the Haitian Revolution, the most successful slave revolt in history, to the continued debate over denials of the Holocaust, and the meaning of Columbus's arrival in the Americas, Trouillot shows us that history is not simply the recording of facts and events, but a process of actively enforced silences, some unconscious, others quite deliberate.

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