In a well-known article, historian Joan Scott challenged the assumption that individuals have experience; on the contrary, she insists: “Experience is a subject’s history. Language is the site of history’s enactment” (1992: 34). In her view, “experience” always needs to be historicized, not simply gathered. As we saw on numerous occasions in this book, however, the notion of experience as prediscursive bedrock authorized historical producers who could claim access to it while dispelling the shadow that their own politics cast on their archival constructions and historical texts. To unfix the evidence of “experience,” then, one must get at its double aspect and trace how the experience of research and the experience of the researched subject become interlocked in the archive in a tightly wound empirical bundle. In this book, I have been primarily concerned with historicizing the experience of the historical producer. Following Scott, I have not asked how individuals and groups come to “undertake” historical projects, but rather how authors, archivists, and witnesses emerge as subjects in the course of historical praxis. In turn, I have attempted to show how political arguments, claims to belonging, assertions of cultural continuity, expressions of comradeship, and bids for collective redemption and reform of cultural memory were furthered from these positions.
KeywordsMigration Dust Harness
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