During the past three years I have been looking into answering some questions: how do we make sense of the past in the digital era? What is there in archival sources (photos, documents, film and more) and oral history that speaks to us? How to we paste together a narrative over the traces left by previous generations today?
Convergence brings in more questions: do we perceive the past in a fundamentally different way today? How do we negotiate with the intrinsically powerful narratives based on different philosophies in the meta-modernist era? Which impact have digital humanities on making sense of the past?
This is a diary, notebook, reflecting tool I use to look into my research: how do we narrate the past in film and television? How much of history is silenced? How? Which is the impact of ‘silenced history’ on the understanding of the past? None. Exactly! How much truth can we handle? What is happening when we bring to the surface silenced history and confront the understanding of the past we acquired, often as inherited history, in view of the ‘new’ knowledge?
My case study is highly simple, disputed and multi-layered. Right now I look into the depiction of Trieste’s history in Italian film and television between 1909 and 2010. And in there, a clear pattern of historical ‘silencing’ emerged.
Not sure about what Silenced history is?
Over time, the cultural hegemony of one dominant group tends to activate a process of silencing:
- ‘Other cultures’ become under-represented cultures
- Under-represented cultures become Silenced cultures
- Silenced cultures become Forgotten cultures
- Forgotten cultures become ‘Never happened cultures’.
- ‘Never happened cultures’, by vanishing, are unspoken of and validate the idea that the dominant group’s culture is the natural development of the original local people.
A good introductory book to go for would be: Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1997), Silencing the Past: power and the production of history, Beacon Press.