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

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This groundbreaking achievement by Michel-Rolph Trouillot forces the reader to see history through a different lens. Trouillot doesn’t focus so much on what is being recorded in history, he is more focused on what is not being said. The author identifies the Haitian Revolution as being a great example of one of the “silences” in history. The World barely even acknowledges the importance of the Haitian Revolution as the only successful slave revolt in history. Its greatness is often diminished as other revolutions like the American and French have a much greater focused. Trouillot challenges the reader by questioning whether this silence of not acknowledging the significance of the Haitian Revolution exposes the racism of the American and French Revolutions, “In 1791, there is no public debate on the record, in France, in England, or in the United States on the right of black slaves to achieve self-determination.” The Haitian Revolution challenged the status quo of wealthy white Nations using racism, white supremacy, and slavery to enrich themselves at the expense of non-white people. These European Countries, that claimed to support the freedom and liberty of all men, ostracized Haiti from the World for having the nerve to rise up against a “superior race.”  The author points to the racist omittance of the Haitian Revolution from the historical record has led to the decline of Haiti’s well-being, “Ostracized for the better part of the nineteenth century, the country deteriorated both economically and politically as a result of this ostracism. As Haiti declined, the reality of the revolution seemed increasingly distant, and improbability which took place in an awkward past and for which no one had a rational explanation.”  The failure of the world both past and present to recognize Haiti has contributed to the country’s deterioration, the first place it reverse this is to educate the people on the remarkable achievement that former Haitian slaves both Creole and African accomplished against all odds. 

This groundbreaking achievement by Michel-Rolph Trouillot forces the reader to see history through a different lens.

Trouillot doesn’t focus so much on what is being recorded in history, he is more focused on what is not being said. The author identifies the Haitian Revolution as being a great example of one of the “silences” in history. The World barely even acknowledges the importance of the Haitian Revolution as the only successful slave revolt in history. Its greatness is often diminished as other revolutions like the American and French have a much greater focused.

Trouillot challenges the reader by questioning whether this silence of not acknowledging the significance of the Haitian Revolution exposes the racism of the American and French Revolutions, “In 1791, there is no public debate on the record, in France, in England, or in the United States on the right of black slaves to achieve self-determination.” The Haitian Revolution challenged the status quo of wealthy white Nations using racism, white supremacy, and slavery to enrich themselves at the expense of non-white people. These European Countries, that claimed to support the freedom and liberty of all men, ostracized Haiti from the World for having the nerve to rise up against a “superior race.”  

The author points to the racist omittance of the Haitian Revolution from the historical record has led to the decline of Haiti’s well-being, “Ostracized for the better part of the nineteenth century, the country deteriorated both economically and politically as a result of this ostracism. As Haiti declined, the reality of the revolution seemed increasingly distant, and improbability which took place in an awkward past and for which no one had a rational explanation.”  

The failure of the world both past and present to recognize Haiti has contributed to the country’s deterioration, the first place it reverse this is to educate the people on the remarkable achievement that former Haitian slaves both Creole and African accomplished against all odds.

— From Social Change

Description


Now part of the HBO docuseries "Exterminate All the Brutes," written and directed by Raoul Peck

The 20th anniversary edition of a pioneering classic that explores the contexts in which history is produced—now with a new foreword by renowned scholar Hazel Carby

 
Placing the West's failure to acknowledge the Haitian Revolution—the most successful slave revolt in history—alongside denials of the Holocaust and the debate over the Alamo, Michel-Rolph Trouillot offers a stunning meditation on how power operates in the making and recording of history.

This modern classic resides at the intersection of history, anthropology, Caribbean, African-American, and post-colonial studies, and has become a staple in college classrooms around the country. In a new foreword, Hazel Carby explains the book's enduring importance to these fields of study and introduces a new generation of readers to Trouillot's brilliant analysis of power and history's silences.

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.

Praise For…


“A sparkling interrogation of the past. . . . A beautifully written, superior book.”
Foreign Affairs
 
“Trouillot is a first-rate scholar with provocative ideas. . . . His work [is] a feast for the mind.”
Jay Freeman, Booklist

“Now that so many grand projects of the past are up for reappraisal, Michel-Rolph Trouillot interrogates history, to ask how histories are, in fact, produced. . . . A beautifully written book, exciting in its challenges.”
—Eric. R. Wolf

“An accessible book filled with wisdom and humanity.”
—Bernard Mergen, American Studies International

“Aphoristic and witty, [Silencing the Past] shows that the two senses in which history is made, by doers and by tellers, meet in moments of evidentiary silence. . . . A hard-nosed look at the soft edges of public discourse about the past.”
—Arjun Appadurai

“Written with clarity, wit, and style throughout, this book is for everyone interested in historical culture.”
American Historical Review

“[Trouillot was] a transformative presence in multiple fields [who] redefined the meaning of scholarship. . . . Trouillot taught us all how to read carefully, argue passionately, and write responsibly.”
—Colin Dayan, Boston Review


Product Details
ISBN: 9780807080535
ISBN-10: 0807080535
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: March 17th, 2015
Pages: 216
Language: English