genlara

 

Thinking about the readings for the week in relation to my project, made me think critically of the role of archives. Its noteworthy to me that both Newman and Guzman referenced Michel Rolph-Trouillot’s classic piece Silencing the Past. Especially because a running theme through the readings is this question of power and privilege and how and who creates the archive. Mainly, what is my position within the formation of the archive?

Guzman’s pieces particularly spoke to me because of the similarity between his project and mine. One of the principal reasons for why I wanted to work with the Public Scholars program was because I wanted to do a project that involved high school students in Miami. Every place is a reflection of its history, but there are certain places, like Miami where the violence, trauma and hope of past, present and future are perfectly crystallized. As Guzman wrote, immigration stories are those that are often lost and hard to locate. In short, it is an archive that is mostly non-exist in official histories. Miami is a place that has been formed and re-shaped through immigration, but it’s a story that is hidden or manipulated to conform to the Cuban exile narrative. This has created a silenced archive of immigration that is often in contradiction with a politically controlled historical narrative of the Cold War and the U.S. supposed victorious role in the affair.

The archive of Miami is both a reflection of the politics surrounding the archive as explained by Trouillot, but also its silences. It is also a city that is meant to represent the future, as the recent election cycle demonstrated. But trapped between all these narratives is a generation that lives in between these silences and state narratives. It is the voice that in some ways, is not considered by our readings Ferguson and Newman. Of course, as a scholar, I will always question the role of the archive and the university’s role in its creation and enforcement.

But the reason why Miami always grabs at my heart is because it is a place where I can see how vividly people, in their every day, live side by side with this space between a lived history that often, in its trauma, is silenced by state-sponsored, archived supported, messages of the past. This is where I return to immigration. So many of Miami’s recent immigrations arrived in the city surviving revolutions and armed struggles in the Caribbean and Latin America. Yet when I think about my generation of first generation and second generation children of Miami’s recent immigrants, most of us have very little knowledge of our families’ stories of escape and survival. We live in the in between. And that nebulous space is one that I hope my students and our community leaders can try to define and unravel this summer. I also hope to question if sometimes not including our stories is the archive is not itself a form of resistance? Is it more powerful to keep some stories and narratives hidden?