AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: THE RETROSPECTIVE SIGNIFICANCE OF SLAVERY
Author: YARIMAR BONILLA (University of Virginia)   
Date/Time: Sat., 2:15 PM
Co-Author(s): YARIMAR BONILLA (University of Virginia) 
Abstract: In his book Silencing the Past, Michel-Rolph Trouillot argues that there are several moments of historical production in which processes of silencing and presentism inform our contemporary visions of the past. In this paper I will examine how these dynamics unfold during what he describes as the final moment of historical production: the assignation of retrospective significance. Through an exploration of recent battles over the commemoration of slavery in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, I will examine Trouillot’s ideas about retrospective significance (what constitutes a relevant past?) the futility of historical apologies (how do we create remorseful or injured collectivities?) and the production of “authentic” commemorations (how can we commemorate the past in a way that speaks authentically to the relationships of the present?). If, as Trouillot suggests, the past cannot be understood outside of its relationship to the present, then how do battles over historical commemoration serve to reveal present day silences? What lessons about the present can be gained from an exploration of the silencing of the past?

Program Number: 4-0750
Session Title: HISTORY, MEMORY, GLOBALIZATION: IN HONOR OF MICHEL-ROLPH TROUILLOT
Session Sponsor: American Ethnological Society
Session Date/Time: Sat., 1:45 PM-5:30 PM
Organizer(s): RICHARD PRICE (College of William & Mary), BRACKETTE WILLIAMS (University of Arizona) 
Chair(s): RICHARD PRICE (College of William & Mary)  
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