Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History

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Beacon Press, 1995 - History - 191 pages
4 Reviews
Silencing the Past is a thought-provoking analysis of historical narrative. Taking examples ranging from the Haitian Revolution to Columbus Day, Michel-Rolph Trouillot demonstrates how power operates, often invisibly, at all stages in the making of history to silence certain voices.

"Makes the postmodernist debate come alive."

"Trouillot, a widely respected scholar of Haitian history . . . is a first-rate scholar with provocative ideas . . . Serious students of history should find his work a feast for the mind."

--Jay Freedman, Booklist
"Elegantly written and richly allusive, . . . Silencing the Past is an important contribution to the anthropology of history. Its most lasting impression is made perhaps by Trouillot's own voice--endlessly agile, sometimes cuttingly funny, but always evocative in a direct and powerful, almost poetic way."

--Donald L. Donham, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
"A sparkling interrogation of the past. . . . A beautifully written, superior book."

--Foreign Affairs
"Silencing the Past is a polished personal essay on the meanings of history. . . . [It] is filled with wisdom and humanity."

--Bernard Mergen, American Studies International
"An eloquent book."

"Written with clarity, wit, and style throughout, this book is for everyone interested in historical culture."

"A beautifully written book, exciting in its challenges."

--Eric R. Wolf
"Aphoristic and witty, . . . a hard-nosed look at the soft edges of public discourse about the past."

--Arjun Appadurai

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Great book. Note to Google and searchers alike: to search for the word "Irish" in the text, type itish. Somebody mis-typed the code wrong so please fix it, Google! Sorry, I couldn't find a "Report a problem" link. Further more, a lot of "r"s are replaced with "t" in the text shown for those of us who haven't purchased the whole book online. I write again, please fix this! It makes me wonder what else in Google books has been botched. 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Very interesting book, mostly a philosophical approach to what is "history". The author reviews how we in the West perceive history, an account of past events mostly established by the academia. He argues that different people and governments have different accounts of a historical event based on their personal experiences, ethnic background, and political agenda. It has helped further open my mind. How little do we know... 

Selected pages


The Power in the Story
The Three Faces of Sans Souci
An Unthinkable History
Good Day Columbus
The Presence in the Past

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About the author (1995)

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, one of the most prominent Haitian scholars in the United States, is director of the Institute for Global Studies in culture, Power, and History and Krieger/Eisenhower Distinguished Professor in anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.

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