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Article Title

Blood at the Root

Abstract

What is the sound of silence and what is the sight of absence? The following essay situates itself along those two questions by devoting close ethnographic attention to the lives and afterlives of seven people—Delia, Renty, Jem, Alfred, Fassena, Drana, and Jack—whose reflections resonate and resound throughout the world of archives. I argue that a theory of archival power must consider the role of process and place in the shaping of modern memory practices. The article begins by narrating the story of how these seven people came to occupy the center of the archival universe. Next, it traces a tale about the Harvard University museum where remnants of their resilience reside before it follows the fight of their descendants to reclaim their bodies. The paper concludes with a contention for the centrality of “archival dynamics,” a term I neologize that conceptualizes archives apart from their institutional instantiations and as dialectical processes that concentrate and codify power.

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