". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. 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." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The American Slave Coast

I am  having a new experience. There are two different books that cover the culture(s) of a region for the same era. They employ many of the same source materials, particularly the primary source materials. They are both chronological. They are published by the same press. Twelve years separate their publication. The later one is a narrative history. It ignores the previous one which takes a demographic approach though it too incorporates a great deal of narrative. They don't agree on important points. They are both the books of the moment for this cultural history. There is one place the second book acknowledges the existence of the earlier publication -- and it takes that earlier publication to the woodshed, figuratively speaking. However, I am not convinced that the newer book is right, despite its impeccable sourcing.


K. said...

The researcher's dilemma...Do you go with one over the other, or do you attempt to reconcile what you can?

Foxessa said...

I have to try and reconcile.

What is most difficult for me is that I have a very strong sense that there is a personal animosity or at least envy - jealousy, involved with the second writer about the first writer getting there first. But I have no proof of this. Nor do I happen to have personal contact with people who know this particular writer who I could ask.

Love, c.