On Silence and History

  • Topouzova L
0Citations
Citations of this article
2Readers
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
Get full text

Abstract

How to write a silenced history is the broad question that frames this essay. It explores the methodological challenges of working with a purged archive and fragmented oral histories while telling the little-known story of the Bulgarian gulag and its aftermath. Weaving together the personal and the historical, the essay unfolds the silences that constitute the experience of state repression during the Communist era and the trauma that lingers to this day in the lives of survivors and society. To write a history of the Communist camp past in the capitalist present requires scholars to overcome intellectual frameworks deeply mired in triumphalist Cold War rhetoric. The historical methodology laid out here suggests that doing so demands of us to embrace the imperfect evidence that we have at our disposal: disjointed testimonies and purged documents. Instead of trying to make them cohere into a linear historical narrative, the essay proposes that we leave the gaps open and let the silences speak. In grappling with the limit of the archival record and faded memories, the essay also reflects on the multiplicity of the lived experience of twentieth-century Eastern European Communism and its contradicting realities, emancipatory and repressive at once.

Cite

CITATION STYLE

APA

Topouzova, L. (2021). On Silence and History. The American Historical Review, 126(2), 685–699. https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/rhab191

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free