Subscribe: History Workshop Journal - current issue
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History Workshop Journal Current Issue

Published: Tue, 11 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:52:20 GMT


Japan, Global History, and the Great Silence


A young Japanese woman called Usa Hashimoto disembarks on Thursday Island, Queensland, in September 1897. Two months later, she briefly recounts her story to a British colonial official. What does her testimony mean for the way we write global history? Who, indeed, are the ‘we’ in global history? This experimental essay, divided into ten parts, revisits the question of ‘silence’ in history in order to argue that structure, form and writing style should be key tools in the struggle to hear voices from the past. Bringing W.G. Sebald, Greg Dening, Minoru Hokari, Julie Otsuka and Virginia Woolf into dialogue with each other, I suggest that global history demands new forms of writing. To illustrate my point, I draw on literary techniques of framing, sequencing, intertextuality and juxtaposition in an attempt to trace what I call the ‘moving first person’ in Hashimoto’s testimony. Whether my particular constellation works or not is for readers to judge; but at the very least, I would be happy if this one experiment also sparked others.

John Forrester (1949–2015): an Appreciation


Fig. 1.John Forrester, Paris 2013. Photo by Lisa Appignanesi.