Trouillot is very much like a story-teller. Throughout his book, I’ve noticed that he shifts from one writing style to another. In the beginning, he starts kind of in the middle of nowhere and jumps into a factual account of the Alamo. Then his story becomes a sort of discussion, where he distinguishes the many aspects of history. He seems to know that he is writing for North-American undergrads, that we are his audience. Therefore in his presentation of facts, story-telling and discussion he is selective about what is presented and what is silenced. He tells us that, from page 56- 57, in considering who his audiences are, he chose to insert and omit certain facts. In a sense, there are also silences in Silencing the Past, and Trouillot admits that. I like how he argues that history is biased by telling us that he is biased too, which makes his argument very convincing. There is no doubt that history is like a chronicler providing a play-by-play account of a game, as it cannot be inclusive of literally every thing that happens. But what gets told and what doesn’t get told is dependent on who has power. Can a white male write African history? Trouillot introduces many on-going debates about power and the production of history in this book. It is therefore useful to know that the silences in history is also a part of history, and by acknowledging those silences, we are making history as well. In the lecture on Monday, the idea of ‘reparations’ came up at one point. This relates to the ‘disneyland of slavery’ in the book. I guess the question isn’t whether or not we can repair the damage, but whether or not it’s appropriate, and what’s the point of it. A similar case is First Nations of British Columbia. We all know that by saying “the unceded land of the Musqueam people” means that we are acknowledging that we are technically ‘illegal immigrants’. Power and hegemony play a huge role in creating history and also ‘what is reality’. I think Trouillot wants us to find the marginalized part of history.
To correct a mistake in the post ‘Hobbes makes sense’, Leviathan was first published in 1651 in English (not Latin). The revised Latin edition came out in 1668. Both versions were written by Hobbes. My apologies to anyone who was confused by the error. Thanks to Christina for the correction!
…if you take it in little bits at a time. When I first started reading Hobbes, the language (somewhat Shakespearean) kind of put me off, and I just wanted to be done with him. But as I forced myself to read on, I found that Hobbes actually has some very interesting ideas that are coherent; although his scientific knowledge might be a bit off, it is still a tolerable and interesting point of view. I liked how he started everything from its beginnings and origins, and then moved a step at a time to the bigger picture. He started with an analysis of man, where and how sense, thoughts, imagination, and reasoning as well as emotions are produced. Then, having built up his argument, he expands from man to society, how desires and aversions of each individual impact society, and how society should be governed so that everyone can live together in peace. Overall, I like Hobbes and I appreciate that he advocates for society’s commoners. He has some good intentions in that he doesn’t want us (ordinary people) to be fooled by any authoritative figure such as priests and philosophers cough Plato cough. We should be able to think for ourselves and not repose our trust on someone else interpreting the material for us. Even though I admit that Hobbes means well, I can’t help thinking that if he really wanted us to not be confused or fooled, then why write such a complicated text that is so annoying and discouraging to read? He wrote the text in Latin so it can be translated into English. At one point Hobbes does say that ‘incorporeal ideas’ such as “the trinity” can’t be translated correctly between languages. Maybe that’s why he writes in Latin, to show us that since his ideas can be translated without error, he must be reliable. Still, I wish he could have written everything in short and concise sentences, but I think that’s up to the translator. Even then, that would really serve Hobbes and the publishing company well and gain popularity for the text and expand its audiences.