Pub Date1997
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Between History and Histories: The Production of Silences and Commemorations

Gerald Sider
University of Toronto Press

Since the 1980s historians have been influenced by two anthropological concepts: cultural distance and awareness of small-scale interactions. Recent work, however, has shifted away from these notions. We now see that cultures cannot be studied as units with internal coherence and that the microcosm does not represent a cultural whole.

This book proposes an alternative. Differentiation is the keyword that lets us focus on ruptures, contradiction, and change within a society. It drives us to recognize many different histories as opposed to one official history. The case studies in Between History and Histories use this new approach in historical anthropology to examine how certain events are silenced in the shadow of others that are commemorated by monuments, ceremonies, documents, and story-telling. The first set of studies explores cases around the world where the official construction of the past has been contested. The second set describes the silences voiced as a result of these disputes.

For students, this collection provides a useful overview of interaction between two disciplines. For historians and anthropologists, it offers a new vision of how history is produced.