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"Infelicitous speech, obscene utterances, and perilous commands give birth to the characters we stumble upon in the archive....straining against the limits of the archive to write a cultural history of the captive, enacting the impossibility of representing the lives of the captives precisely through the process of narration... it is a history written with and against the archive... the incommensurability between the prevailing discourses and the event.. and produced a counter-history at the intersection of the fictive and the historical."

*Narrative restraint, the refusal to fill in the gaps and provide closure, is a requirement of this method, as is the imperative to respect black noise–the shrieks, the moans, the nonsense, and the opacity, which are always in excess of legibility and of the law and which hint at and embody aspirations that are wildly utopian, derelict to capitalism, and antithetical to its attendant discourse of Man (Fugitive Justice).

The intent of this practice is not to give voice to the slave, but rather to imagine what cannot be verified, a realm of experience which is situated between two zones of death–social and corporeal death–and to reckon with the precarious lives which are visible only in the moment of their disappearance. It is also impossible writing which attempts to say that which resists being said (since dead girls are unable to speak). It is a history of an unrecoverable past: it is a narrative of what might have been or could have been; it is a history written with and against the archive. - Saidiya Harman, Venus in Two Acts

from Venus in Two Acts. Saidiya

Added by Taeyoon Choi
Updated 2 years ago

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