HIEA 115 Week 7
the incompleteness of archives that you had in your groups through Korean, “buraku,” and Okinawan women and men who lived primarily in the Japanese countryside, to your own conditions today. The primary question I would like you to think about is what kind of history-writing about the lives of these women is ethical, and how is being careful about how we represent them using archival materials different from erasing them from history? To think through this question, reflect on the times that we are living right now. What sorts of experiences and relationships have been important to you in these pandemic times, that you think may not be recorded in official archives (Brand’s “right hand ledgers”) or make it into narratives of historical transformation? How might centering those experiences and relationships transform the way historians making sense of this moment think about 2022 even if they do not write explicitly about them? How many of the experiences and relationships that were meaningful for to you in this moment would you feel comfortable having future historians dig through? How does thinking about these questions change the way you think about the ethics of writing other people’s histories?
I feel these are really hard questions to answer. First, I believe it is hard to distinguish what is an ethical history-writing about the lives of these women. Their stories and voice have been ignored and covered for a long time. Most of the information and evidence which record and support their stories have not been preserved or have already destroyed. The remaining part has been put in the “left hand ledgers” and never have the chance to be in the “right hand ledgers”. This makes scholars hard to get enough sources. Moreover, most of those people have already perished. It is hard for scholars to get their consent, ideas, and feelings from them directly. This makes scholars hard to examine if their work is ethical since they do not have the consent of witnesses and they cannot determine the authenticity of their sources. More than this, witnesses’ ideas and feelings might be restrained due to the limitation of papers or other forms of intermediary. Like the topic we discussed in week6, there were not many sources we had to study the life of Okinawan people in Mandate Island industries. We only get two pictures of work ledgers. There might be differences on what we get from sources and the actual situations. However, I think we should get more primary sources, share all these sources together, and carefully examined them before writing any projects. By getting more primary sources, we can get more sources which are possibly reliable, By sharing all those sources, every scholars can help to examine the authenticity of sources and re-analyze our work for any possible mistakes. I believe the work which has done under this process can be consider as an ethical history-writing.
During the pandemic, I have experienced a lot which did not and will not be recorded in the “right hand ledger”. As an international student from China, my unique identity has given me unique experiences. I was biased and discriminated by people not only from United States and from China. At the end of winter quarter in 2020, we started to put more concern on this pandemic. I was studying at Geisel 6 floor for my finals and wearing a mask since I was concerned about my health and others’ health. At that time, two American boys make fun of me because I am Chinese, and I was wearing a mask. I was also discriminated by people in China due to my identity as a student studying abroad. Many people be hostile and abuse students studying abroad since we came back at a time that the situation of China was better, and the situation of other countries were getting worse. They believed we were selfish and egoist who would bring virus back to China. There were many other experiences: over-pricing ticket, canceled flights, lost college life and opportunities, stalled plans, families and friends we could not meet, deterioration of health, and others. These were not and will not be recorded in official archives, but they are things that actually happened and affect my and other people’s whole life. These make me wonder to what extent people’s experience should be included in the official archives. Just like the stories of Korean, Okinawan, and buraku women. They are a part of the world, but why they were excluded from the history.