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

By Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Foreword by means of Hazel V. Carby
A glossy vintage approximately energy and the making of heritage, with a brand new foreword via a favorite scholar
Michel-Rolph Trouillot areas the West’s failure to recognize the main winning slave insurrection in heritage, the Haitian Revolution, along denials of the Holocaust and the controversy over the Alamo and Christopher Columbus during this relocating and thought-provoking meditation on how strength operates within the making and recording of heritage. Silencing the Past analyzes the silences in our ancient narratives, what's disregarded and what's recorded, what's remembered and what's forgotten, and what those silences display approximately inequalities of energy. Weaving own memories from his lifetime as a scholar and instructor of historical past, Trouillot exposes forces much less visible—but no much less powerful—than gunfire, estate, and political crusades. This twentieth-anniversary version of Trouillot’s pioneering paintings encompasses a new foreword from popular student Hazel V. Carby that speaks to the ongoing impact of Silencing the Past at the fields of anthropology, historical past, and African American, Caribbean, and postcolonial studies—as good as to the book’s designated pedagogical price as an creation to ancient research.

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Extra resources for Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (20th anniversary edition)

Example text

In that sense, the past has no content. The past—or, more accurately, pastness—is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past. Leaving aside for now the fact that my knowledge that I once went to Japan, however derived, may not be of the same nature as remembering what it was like to be in Japan, the model assumes that both kinds of information exist as past prior to my retrieval. But how do I retrieve them as past without prior knowledge or memory of what constitutes pastness?

Historians had long questioned the veracity of some of the events in Alamo narratives, most notably the story of the line on the ground. According to that story, when it became clear that the choice for the 189 Alamo occupants was between escape and certain death at the Mexicans’ hands, commandant William Barret Travis drew a line on the ground. He then asked all those willing to fight to the death to cross it. Supposedly, everyone crossed—except of course the man who conveniently escaped to tell the story.

Everything. When teaching in different spheres of knowledge and across different geographies, it can be difficult for two faculty members to agree on a particular reading for a class they are teaching together. However, Laura and I agreed immediately and simultaneously that the one book we wanted all members of the seminar to read not just for our session but also to purchase for their own reading and rereading was Silencing the Past. Our objective was to make our students think across the problems of “the field,” “the archive,” and “the text”; to enable them to understand the politics of representation, the complexities and subtleties of the relation between what they were reading and seeing, and to comprehend the nature of that relation as a relation of power.

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