Do historians have an ethical duty to the dead? Using the context of the history of North American freak shows in the twentieth century in general and a photograph of 'the Elephant Skinned Boys' in particular, this article explores the knot of historical practice, ethics, and the politics of archiving and publishing to question whether or not historical practice may perpetuate vulnerabilities and inequities. The fragments of archival documents can raise important ethical questions of vulnerability, reproduction, and historians’ complicity in the legacies of vulnerability and unequal power relations.
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