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World History Spring 2013 History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands. These powerful words are found in Michel-Rolph Trouillots book Silencing The Past. Through the examples that are shown in four chapters I will elaborate and explain how Trouillots theory can explain his claim about world history phenomena that the history of developing nations are being silenced, and history that we know today was crafted majorly by the West without taking to account the opposite. In chapter 2 I will elaborate on Trouillot’s claim about how West created a silence around Haitian revolution. In chapter I will explain Trouillot’s argument about why west used silence in regard of Haitian revolution. In chapter four I will focus on history and creation of Columbus Day as contrast I will use Haitian revolution to reinforce Authors claim about silences that and production of history. In chapter 5, I will analyze on how Slavery and Holacaoust are relevant to the Trouillots argument about varieties of silence in history production. To finish up I will summarize and explain why Trouillots theory about history production should acknowledged.

In chapter two, entitled “The Three Faces of Sans Souci”, Trouillot, through his investigation, presents to the reader how the History of the name Sans Souci was crafted and silenced by the West. In order to understand Trouillot’s theory, we must examine three instances in which the name Sans Souci was used. In the first two instances, the name Sans Souci’s was used to describe two palaces. First one was built for the Prussian Emperor Frederic the Great. The second palace was built for King of Haiti, Henry Christophe. Finally in the third instance, it was the name of an African slave, who became a Haitian revolution leader who fought for the freedom of slaves against the Haitian King Henry Christophe. Sans Souci’s uprising against King Christophe resulted in defeat that led to the Sans Souci’s execution. However, as this revolution occurred, the Western world tried to silence this event for two reasons. First, so that slaves that was forced to work on for west benefit don’t riot. Second, because it was unthinkable for the western society to imagine such outcome by someone who is less superior. Thus the Western world didn’t recognize Haiti as a Republic. This example clearly shows that Trouillots theory about silence being artificially created by those who wield power in the West is correct. However important to understand that this silence was a temporary one soon to be revealed to the world in a new light as the one the first and biggest contributor to the anti-slavery movement around the globe.

In chapter 3, that is entitled an “Unthinkable History,” Trouillot to question how history was conducted produced and presented to the world. An argument that Trouillot makes is that the Haitian revolution was viewed by the West as a unthinkable history for couple reasons. First, French government couldn’t believed that 1,800 their highly trained troops who once defeated 100, 000 Native Americans, were defeated by the 50,000 slaves. In reality this slaves were a highly organize rebellion group. Second, reason Trouillot explains that these events challenged western society most radical minds, because it finally showed miscalculations of the West that always thought that slaves couldn’t organize or govern themselves. As a result the West used its power and influence to silenced those historical events. This brings one to the conclusion, that Hatian revolution was just a good example of how West was silencing the moments of their mistakes and fear of loosing it’s world domination.

In chapter 4, entitled “Good Day Columbus,” Trouillot argues that unlike the Haitian Revolution that was completely silenced by the west, Columbus’s discovery of America was given a significant attention however some moments were silenced. Trouillot examines why such a contrast between these events exists in Western history. Trouillot argues that Columbus Day created by the US has far more importance in the Western world than the anti slavery movement in Haiti. Indeed, Columbus discovery has a stronger relevance to the Western world for few reasons. First, it shows a transformation and expansion of Western Europe. Second, because it promotes exploring nature of Christianity. Consequently, this also helped Catholic groups from Ireland and Italy to establish their identity in US. Third, it reinforces Western dominant culture and position in the world’s eyes. In contrast Trouillot argues that Columbus discovery become a gate to the set of conquest and invasions of inhabit lands by the Western world. However the West presented these events as a celebration of white European male dominance, conveniently silencing atrocities and holocausts that occurred during the colonization of these lands.

In chapter 5 entitled The Presence in the Past Trouillot summarizes his argument about silences in production of public history. Author presents an example in which he compares how Western world view the history of European Holocaust during the World War 2 and history of Slavery that occurred in Americas. As fist example Trouillot presents a Walt’s Disney attempt to build a park with historical themes in which African-American slavery would be one of them. Further as Trouillot expands on his argument he states that biggest problem with Disney slave attraction park would be not a false facts that visitors would learn but a negative reaction of the tourists. In Same manner he elaborates on fact of Holocaust, making reader understand that just just because Nazzi did this horrible atrocities to the Jewish population, it dosent mean we have to fight against Skinheads. With this arguments that Trouillot we can clearly see that, one must not live in past but try to learn from it and try not to repeat same mistakes.

To summarize this paper one can clearly see that Haitian revolution is clear example of how silences in history of the world are produced. As result of the Haitian events we Can now understand Trouillot argument of that production of world history is crafted by the winners. In addition to that important to note that by looking at the production of history one can understand by whom for whom a history was made.


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