Contested Sites of an Enduring Colonial Past

  • Michele M. Mason


Tessa Morris-Suzuki’s richly interwoven reflection on the “political economy of historical truthfulness” in The Past Within Us, stresses the need to recognize the potency of popular mediums to shape contemporary historical knowledge. Concerned that we perceive much too narrowly the loci in which history is produced in the age of multimedia, she directs her critical eye toward commemorative sites, film, manga, historical fiction, and photography to examine the unique ways each shapes contemporary understandings of the past. Among the many crucial interventions she makes, her reframing of the thorny question of responsibility through the notion of “implication” is exceedingly fruitful. Speaking to the Jewish Holocaust, Nanjing Massacre, and the violence of British colonialism, Morris-Suzuki writes, “Though we may not be responsible for such acts of aggression in the sense that we caused it, we are implicated in the sense that they caused us.”1 That is to say that the structure and texture of our lives are to a great degree determined by our society’s ideals and institutions, which grow out of both the decisions made in and the interpretations crafted about the past. Quoting Falkner’s famous line, “The past is not dead, it isn’t even past,” Morris Suzuki urges a meaningful examination of the many ways the past continues to animate and define our world, national policies, memories, and personal lives.


Indigenous People Horse Farm National Narrative Japanese History Historical Fiction 
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© Michele M. Mason 2012

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  • Michele M. Mason

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