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

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

by Michel-Rolph Trouillot


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Foreword by Hazel V. Carby
A modern classic about power and the making of history, with a new foreword by a prominent scholar
Placing the West’s failure to acknowledge the most successful slave revolt in history alongside denials of the Holocaust and the debates over the Alamo and Christopher Columbus, Michel-Rolph Trouillot offers a stunning meditation on how power operates in the making and recording of history. Presented here with a new foreword by renowned scholar Hazel V. Carby, Silencing the Past is an indispensable analysis of the silences in our historical narratives, of what is omitted and what is recorded, what is remembered and what is forgotten, and what these silences reveal about inequalities of power.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807080535
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 03/17/2015
Edition description: Anniversary
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 227,247
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 2.30(d)

About the Author

Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1949–2012) was one of the most prominent Haitian scholars working in the United States. He was the director of the Institute for Global Studies in Culture, Power, and History and Krieger/Eisenhower Distinguished Professor in anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. Hazel V. Carby is the Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies, professor of American studies, and director of the Initiative on Race, Gender and Globalization at Yale University.

Table of Contents

Foreword Hazel V. Carby xi

Acknowledgments xv

Preface xxi

1 The Power in the Story 1

2 The Three Faces of Sans Souci 31

3 An Unthinkable History 70

4 Good Day, Columbus 108

5 The Presence in the Past 141

Epilogue 154

Notes 157

Index 187

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Silencing the Past : Power and the Production of History 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Muscogulus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The single best theoretical work I have read about writing history. Upon first reading, Trouillot instantly became the historian I most admire.
TLCrawford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To explain this book in the simplest terms I would simply say that Trouillot explains how we get holes, or as he calls them silences, in our historical narrative. It is simple, he writes, silences occur at ¿the moment of fact creation (making the sources), at the moment of fact assembly (making the archives), at the moment of fact retrieval (the making of the narratives), and that the moment of retrospective significance (the making of history in the final instance)¿ As he explains those four moments he also manages to teach a good bit of Haitian history, he demonstrates the difficulty in recording the history of ¿impossible¿ events, and examines the evolution of Columbus from a hired shipmaster who did not even make a log entry for October 12, 1492 to an immortal icon celebrated across three continents on October 12, 1992. I feel humbled after reading Trouillot¿s book. He explains concepts with such clarity that I am embarrassed I did not already know them. Even the one idea that I can claim to have already understood, that two historians with different world views can make honest use all the available data and come to differing conclusions, he explains so much better than I ever could. Without even mentioning Watergate the Tea Party he explained to me how so many adults at the time believed that Nixon did nothing wrong and now believe that Obama was not born here. Silencing the Past is a first rate histography and one of the few that I would recommend to non-historians.