Week 1 Short Answer

The way that history happens is not the only thing that affects the way history is remembered. There are many things that affect the way in which narratives of history, and especially narratives of conflict, are portrayed including through language, visual representation, and the use of silence. The level of conflict, as well as the importance of the event, can be over exaggerated or under represented depending on the source which is why it is very important to consider where the information is coming from when studying conflicts in history and in the present.

Language was described in lecture this week as a set of rules for how to express and interpret the meaning of the events and environment around us. According to John Searle, as sited in lecture, social construction is created through the assignment of specific roles to objects and occurrences in our lives along with a culture’s shared intension to treat and think about these objects and occurrences in the same way and conform to rules about them. Language affects narratives of conflict because it allows a story to be told and interpreted differently according to a cultures social construction and shared beliefs.

Visual representation is everywhere in life and conflict is often portrayed in the news, entertainment, and social media. Many people believe that the violence and negativity seen in the media causes our culture, and most importantly our youth, to act out in violent ways while others see the violence in the media as representative of what our culture is and is simply expressed and interpreted differently by different people. The use of visual representation in narratives of conflict can be used to prompt emotions like anger, sorrow, or fear. These images may make the impact of the message greater by allowing the audience to see the conflict at hand in front of their eyes and images taken out of context can be used to mislead people about the reality of an event.

Silence is also used systematically throughout narratives of history and conflict to omit whatever the storyteller doesn’t find important or thinks contradicts their narrative. We learned about Michel- Rolp Trouillot’s four key moments, this week in lecture, in which silence can enter the telling of history. He states that silence enters history through the creation of facts, the assembly of facts into resources like archives, through fact retrieval and the forming of narratives, and in the moment of retrospective significance. Fact writing and assembly are both very important when it comes to narratives of conflict because what’s written down and the way in which it is written depends on who’s writing it and what purpose they’re writing it for. What makes it into archives and databases and who makes that decision is also important because what is officially gathered and saved will be around the longest a receive the most attention and credibility. Both these parts of history preservation affect the way narratives of history are formed and help determine whether and even of conflict receives its moment of retrospective significance or not.

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