Bringing the past into the Present: Family Narratives of Holocaust, Exile, and Diaspora: The Story of My Story

: An Anthropology of Violence, Dispossession, and Diaspora Author(s): Alisse Waterston Source: Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Winter, 2005), pp. 43-61 Published by: The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research Stable URL: . Accessed: 15/06/2011 00:10
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Anthropological Quarterly.

the Narratives Bringing Pastintothe Present: Family of Holocaust, and Diaspora Exile,






of Anthropology Violence, and Dispossession, Diaspora

JohnJay Collegeof Criminal Justice

is This a story an oldmanwhose travels the were of through 20thcentury marked andtransformation. author The in anthropolhumor, bysorrow, tragedy, follows an one ogy'stradition writing individual's of biography, locating man'slife in andtime.Itis alsoan experiment autoethnography thisanthropolin since space The recounts a ogist is the old man'sdaughter. personal,intimatenarrative in Jedwabne, man in Havana, man in old Poland, father's history (child young SanJuan,Puerto which alsoa storyaboutpeasantry, is Rico) fascism, patriarchy, and diaspora.In the revolution, dictatorship, migration,transnationalism, strands thistale, we see processes structural violence socialsuffering. and of of andnarrative takeus towards can ethnocenMemory, destruction, interpretation and trism,the worstof nationalism war,or towards understanding, empathy, is thatthisexperiment autoethnography a meanstowards in be justice.Myhope towards but condition in mindful, awakening-anecessary insufficient becoming violence. structural violence,diaspora, preventing genocidal [autoethnography, Jedwabne Cuba, Poland, memory]


Because the intimate of riesof return and connectionbetweenthe anthropologist her subject. 44 .Dispossession. milieu. Langness biography. Mintz1974 (1960). Langnessnoted that ". a boy in Jedwabne. project goesfurther. an old man in SanJuan).a young and and Havana.. 76). I am as much a strangerto his cultural milieu as I would be to any unfamiliarfieldsite. Son Notesof a Native A Thatstoryis a personal. Peoplearetrapped history in them. aim to the connections between manandthe larger the that examine multiple history in frameshis personal eventsreflected his In experience." I do not have insideraccessto all aspectsof his cultural observer. historyis trapped . this anthropological and project.. It might be reasonable to think that in some ways. Watson and Watson-Franke 1985). for one Thisworkbuildson thatanthropological tradition. man in recountmy father'sstory (as Poland. intimate narstoryliesat the heartof thisessay.Shostak1981. life occurred beforemytime. (2002:423). I sinceI am the old man'sdaughter.and in turn. whichmakesmea mostintimate native bymyfatherwho is also my"subject. I am documenting in spaceandtime (Frank man'slife and locating experience his 1979:73. the Beyond Whiteness Whiteness of beinga nightmare-butit maybe the nightJoyceis rightabouthistory in and marefromwhichno one canawaken.othersaroundhim? the story? of Thispaper followsin anthropology's tradition writing individual's an long life historymethod(Crapanzano and the 1980.' have manwhosetravels the rativeof an old Jewish through 20th century In I been coloredby tragedy sorrow. recollection the possibility meanto of Memory a perception relation of betweenoneselfand ingwhichalwaysincludes the world.The Storyof MyStory:AnAnthropology Violence. classic Frank1981. 1979:73).will this However. whatwaysare larger Howhas history affected man.and Diaspora of leadsto consciousness.we mightconsider in autoethnography the kindthat Reed-Danahay of this essayan experiment of or definesas "produced an 'insider' 'native' observer his or herownculby milieu" After mycultural milieuwas in largepartshaped tural all. Nearlyfortyyearsago.JaneLazarre.sinceso muchof myfather's experience and in places I did not know: his boyhood in Polandor life as a young man in Cuba. Evenso.JamesBaldwin. . take us full circlein my ownstoof withmyfatherto the settings his life.much of what any cultur- al anthropologist collectsin the field and on whichhe baseshis professional in is quotedin Frank monographs biographical character" (1954:vi.

and die-outs they have so often encountered in the course of pursuingtheir 'voca45 .. just his narrated it is not aboutthe anthropologist. JaneLazarre. genrethat focuseson a personand their"everchangingrelationships" (Abu-Lughod and on movementsbetweenthe 1991) and the cultural. of this warning. is it onlyaboutcultural nor frameworks oir.2 Autoethnography and interior as an ethnographer.Angrosino Mays PHrez 2003. the sametime. and be "engaged witnesses to the genocides.established to as At prior my"vocation" an anthropologist. essay(andthe larger This on project whichit is based)is aboutall thesethingsat once. the mostdifficult aspectof this effortis to clearlyunderstand the sourcesand consequences his becominga deeplywoundedperson.even way I feel" (1996:14)I share Lazarre's sensibility. mystartof the ing pointtowards understanding causesand consequences myfather's to liberates daughter enter a deeplyprivate this wounds. Ellis Bochner 2003). Lazarre warnsthat the dangers are and underestimated that the intimatenatureof this projectmakesit always "farmoreexhausting In than [those]safer.Forme.Iwas partof that larger history onlysomeof the and not those yearsthat did the most damage-the yearsof his distime.moredistantstudies" (1996:22). place Theprocessis painfuland is significant that NancyScheper-Hughes advises light to of since embracing anthropologists grapplewith the suffering individuals that pain will help anthropologists lose their moral intimatedomain.. or own father. while sharpening Thisethnographic processstretchescertainboundaries other lines.Thisis notjust myfather's not membiography. I do not feel I am a to cultureor that I am an observer stranger myfather's lookingonto his life. HereI am writing about my own group. The him placement. of anotherdaughter an immigrant European haswritEast Jew. confront structural violence.ALISSE WATERSTON But that reasonableconclusionis off the mark. of a research Autoethnography..his reverseEnglish syntaxwill suddenlypenetratemy own the educatedgrammatical structures. linethatdifferentiates fromme hasto do withthis experience. early lodgedin the deepest layersof my psyche-the way I move.the way I [Itis] speakat times. of Theawkward withherfatheron working positionality the ethnographer an anthropological to ourattempts defineprecisemethodologderails project icalgenres.historicaland social structural personal (Reed-Danahay and and de 1997. his experience uniquenot just to himselfbut to the largerhisis for toryof whichhe is a part. ten that her father's life "couldneverjust be academichistoryto me.

" that Rylko-Bauer refersto in her essay in this collection. of It is my hopethatin the strands thistale. history ed in the damage. myfatherrecounts lifetornbythe upheavals the 20th centua of are that come like "asledge-hammer of essential is all. 1999:10-13. 46 .and elseprocess with where(Rylko-Bauer memoria-mind2002). ethnocides die-outs. (Schulkind 1985:21). for nativeCalifornia informants werejust too difficult Kroeber face..(the 'superorganic' a] disembodiedand [as with the destructive to culture) failedto grapple impersonal approach animusof hisadoptedstatetowardits indigenous peoples. Scheper-Hughes ethnography" a cautionary (2002:354-355): tale devastation his of the deaths. theoretical offers larlistic' writings. Withme.1996)forcluesto the broader that is also implicat1987. It is my hope that this experiment in autoethnography is not an exercise in solipsism.Butin turning from the tragic personaland collectivehistoriesof his informants.1996). Dispossession. the a exploringwhat it might mean for "bringing past into the present... history(Farmer Bauern.. In describing to abstract.andcultural premature Perhaps suffering. informants' of experiences leaguethat he did not delve into his Yurok And the contact becausehe 'couldnotstandall the tears.. to zoneof a theory puttheirlossesinto that andhe retreated the safety into Kroeber confided a colonce to a broader. cultural historical perspective. Boyarin interestis in telling my father's My storyand 1992:xiv). but a means towards becoming mindful. we mightlearnmoreaboutwhat violence and the Paul Farmer(2003) calls the mechanismsof structural of machinery politicaleconomythat continueto wreakkillingforceon millions of people today. In my "particularistic I ethnography. towards awakening.and Diaspora AlfredKroeber's from "'particuturn tion"'(2002:351..' so Kroeber era out away beganto writethe individual of his works."startwith the personal(Anzalduta Behar1993... After to be mindful to be aware. His"moments being" memories a shock. This projectseeks a synthesisbetween experimental and the economynotas a wayto perfect craftof anthroethnography political "themotionof connected livesacross curveof time" the pologybutto capture and to refineour understanding embodied of and Bochner (Ellis 2003:217) and Waterston Waterston Rylko1996:261-262. ful. and step in preventing genocides.of The Storyof MyStory:An Anthropology Violence.Memory its rootin the Latin is keyto my purpose.d. meaning the unfolds afterthe experience" blow. Kroeber's anthropology.

a spy. Intestimony gavebeforethe JewishHistorical in the "destruction the Jewishcommunity Jedwabne. was firsttime. stillanother 47 .anotherwitha knife.Even thoughhe saidhe she was Jewishand spoke Yiddish. and his smooth. and askedmy fatherfor perpolite missionto invite me out in New Whenhe cameto visit me the York. thought he had a very strange she is accent. 1938 cated.'Ineverheard sucha place.MiguelWaserstein.tanteBetty verysuspiciousof him. The Latinmusic.. of Shmulke describes Poland" (2001:19-21): with with themselves axes.. controlleddancingseemed so with iron. Shmulke Jedwabne myfather's for as whohadyetto leavePoland Cuba mostof the familyhadalready cousin in he Commission 1945. Poland hometown. 1941.ALISSE WATERSTON Reminiscences It "Imeta youngman. Shmulke lay (Szmul Wasersztajn) hidingin the in Jedwabne. menandchasedthemto took the Jewsintothe street." mother writesin hermemoir. was1942and Louise my the His describes earlydays of my parents' courtship. Waserstein." on Oneyearearlier..specialclubsstudded Local armed hooligans and and and otherinstruments torture destruction chasedall of nails. done. He ordered cocktails and from boughtme a packof Luckies live show of the cigarettegirl. name was "Miguel I thoughthe had gorgeousblue eyes.'Whenwe had an he's Maybe evening date.Cuba. witha club. and afterit was dug out. I was eighteenand he was twentynine. smalltown in northeastern a bushesby the Jewishcemetery was and his nearBialystok.Havana.They healthier a pit.I felt likea moviestar. we went to the for Havana-Madrid nightclub dinner. ca. He was very fromCuba. the morning Waserstein of July10.'What thisCuba place?' of asked. and them to dig the cemetery ordered Jewswerekilledeverywhichway.

[theJews]werefriendly with the Polishpeople come to buythe the marwas All Jedwabne mostlyJewish. Asa matterof fact....600 men.fourin a row.andall werechasedintothe barn. and who Thistestimonyappearsin a book publishedby historian Gross Jan titled the book Neighbors becauseon "(that day). and of savedby a Christian neighbor who hid them in a barn.An and TheStory My of Story: Anthropology Violence.that's first thing they buy-herring! Herring. I the story Though bookcameout froman earlyage whatit was likeformygrandparents.Inthe end theyproceeded the mainaction-the burning. knowherring? Somethingwas wrong in Jedwabne.. of Dispossession.withtheirwagons. so fromthe villages werecoming was ketplace Wednesdays. with their horses. witness.inJuly1941. Frankly. but they were defenseless. the Polacks it occupiedthe whole place.and they show it. theydidn'thavea store. half of the of town murdered other half-some the population a small EastEuropean 1.Sometriedto defendthemselves. pueblo (village) And the storeswereJewish. A lot of food-herthe you ring (laughs).so theywouldcometo Jedwabne. the whosetestimony serves "a hasdedicated Neighbors of mainsourceof information" the historian's for reconstruction that history.peoplewere beaten murderously forcedto sing to anddance.culminating the massmurder Inthe summerof 2001. I felt it was wrong.womenand children" (2001:7). near Diaspora babieswerekilledat their Beards old Jewswereburned.and Thefarmers. You can feel hatred because I went to school with Polish kids. you're 48 ... grewup on it.. and food. Thenthe barnwas doused with kerosene lit. Weare a littlevillage. in a column. Jedwabne: to ThePolishwereveryanti-Semitic they hadto relievethemselves and get ridof the Jews. the near Lithuania.. Theydidn'twant to talk to you. Shmulke a handful otherssurvived.Professor Gross and Wyrzykowski family) (Antonina as to Shmulke. hearing to and Waserstein raisefive boysand two girlsin a Aizik) Riva ItsakIsak(Isac in of for shtetlthat hadseen pogroms decades. myfatherremembers 1941.newborn of and mother's breasts..Jewswere separate and that was wrong.a small villagein the northeast and Germany-Prussia.and the nineto Jewswereordered line up ty-year-oldrabbi and the schochet [Kosherbutcher]were put in front. Shmulke's was not new to me... in 2001..

naming Several yearsago. Jacobo. the same restaurant. to justwhatmerchandise orderfor his PuertoRican Myfather's store is just a half block from the restaurant. it's a convenient place to take lunch.his how when the shochet[Kosher butcher]." for myfather. I know 49 . The teachers were all anti-Semitic. or as Menachim Mendel Mendelee.Don Miguel.3 Riva Yosef ThentherewasChaim. who andSarah became'renot supposedto drinkblood!Youhaveto-in salt havethe meatfor aboutan houror two to takeout the myfathersays. the Polish children together. wantedout of Poland eighty-two yearsold. Jaime.WATERSTON ALISSE children and bad. fact boasting the oldestrestaurant Puerto who still botherto wanderthe cobblestones tourists to mostappealing those as of OldSanJuan. Retrospectives for After firstWorld Riva the War. thatfirstpiece.La and fanshanging fromvaultedceilings tables has Mallorquina ancientwooden a in it's withplacemats covered Rico.Sothe Jewish boysandthe Jewish together.Fela.They childto announced that for Passover. I beganwriting A that an Towards Ethnography Identity.forthe same lunchhe has been eatingoverthe pastthirty-five years. aboutmyfather. especially the boys. is a wellwithdisdain the tourist for tradeanda talentfor knowing merchant respected customers. Motol becameManolo."Sarah Jos6. in the Yiddish In Mendelee diminutive.he startedout As becameMiquelito. myfatherwalksfromhis store at at the sametable. the same in Viejo Juanto sit San time.because you'renot allowed[to drinkblood]even froman animal!Andlook at when he killsan animal.and bringa hot pocillo when the old man waves his hand. The teachersin the publicschools were teachingthe people the songs against the Jews. Fagel. ureda passage Theyearwas 1924 andAmerica closedits borders to So sent hersecondborn. Jews]hadto killa Christian [the makethe matzoh! Andlookat the systemamongthe Jewswhen you killa chickenor killa meat.Shewouldnot see her sons fall for the Polisharmyand she figto had out.Motol. It'sclose and the waiters knowwhat he wants-serve him quickly. my fatheris knownaroundtown. Cuba. suffer! so the animalwouldn't knifehasto be likea surgeon's knife. retrospective. is Sarah. InCuba. Yankel. story Ruth: of Following in SanJuan: an introduces old man It is noontime. and.

a regular a paisano.fromnine in the morning he hates.Itsak. category. a of his Hisbitterness partly problem identity. the firsttime in PuertoRicofor my blood.He'sdemanding.And we were hidden in a cellar 50 . Jew The side descendfrom the familyKromberg.the doctorlookedat me andsaid. "dirty. shareswiththem disdain He race as the Jewas ordinary.myfatherMendelee Riva's surviving youngest shakeshishead. Nobodyelse can do the job like he can. found out that my mother's From specialrace.myfathershares storyabout (a of a one of his womencustomers? snippyappraisal the gringocoupleat the table bythe archedwindow?). invokes to set himselfapart as of of from and above other Jews. I of the poor.Everyone Miguel's but adorehim. poorest so. struggled makea and nobodycaresaboutthe the business wayhe does.oncebabyMoishe died. my WorldWarI was in springtimeand the snow seemsmythic me now."Oh hunger the War to After World I we werehelpless.Blue-blood.and Diaspora of me that gesture. so they had to fight there-Russian and German.Bitterly. father.Itooka test is a nameof Kromberg blueblood." inferior.Dispossession.My he andsickness.It'sa long storyhow we survived. don'tyouframeit?It'sperfect!' blood.recalling early his had father child. withwaiters demeaning insider anecdotes fire.salt.Sothe eighty-two old manstillrunsa business year until he workssix daysa week. There's good reasonfor a fast lunch. fatheris an EastEuropean. a If they do it right-the coffee mustbe in a cup of a certainsize (never and in frontof himas soon as the dinmug).Don Miguelhas to get backto the store. The tanks got stuck in the mud near our village.Hisskyblueeyeson guy.Mysistersand I learnedearlyit means"bring something"water.on as hisvoicebreaking straining he tellsthe story: and father' cries. tape.Andyouknowwhat? mothMy My 'Why er's brothers.steaminghot (neverlukewarm) with Don ner plate is removed(no wait time).And our town started burning. they werepowerful-like a differentkindof race.a chillingindicator both the complexity and racism. in is Bornin Jedwabne 1913. suffered howwe survived My years. of how raceworks. life tells so muchof the is CubanBy my storyof the 20th century.the waiterswill be showered his immediatefamily seems to outside famous charm. He believeshe comesfromspecialstock:"I with American citizenship.The Storyof MyStory:AnAnthropology Violence." have heardthis narrative to so repeated oftenforso manyyears."Myfather for but doesn'trejectthe beliefsof his persecutors. the storeclosesat six.

leastthe bulletsrunbackandforth.there!' you see my wife? Where'smy wife and children?' Everybody you that moreprotected. 1925.moaning.'Did town.[mybrother When[mymother] Yankel] his Andmy motherbeggedhim. 'There.the maleJews.Theywent aheadin whenall the peoplewerecoming. go get your boots. Fagie. weregood to werevery bad. lost walkedin the mud. with arm on father'sshoulder. ca.beforethe tankscome. oldersistertold me. boots. she the cellar My you're and the soldiersmoaning. get your go boots.he said.TheGermans Youknow. all nightheardhow the bayonet lyingon the streets. porfavor [please]go.My another father.Andthe Russian all fatherhadto runaheadof time. at becausein a cellar.deadand dying. Poland.andthe wholestreet. Yankalee.he saw(voicebreaks)father 51 . Mendelstanding second from the right.the Russians wereaccusing Jewsfor being the the Jewsat thattime.theywerelooking them because theywere spies. jedwabne. you'regoing to get frozen.ALISSE WATERSTON The Wasersteins. Myfatherwent ahead. Because so a spyfor Germany. know. 'Yankalee. brother Jack[Yankel] my my on the top of a hillof snowand he saw. my for the Jews.' saw as Theneventually we'rerunning.

thisdaypeopleareconfused his Army becamean American by accentwhenhe speaksEnglish-"What it?" is "Where you are Spanish Yiddishy from?"In the early 1940s. Now. Hetriedraising in NewYork awhile.remember 'I'mhungry. Problem each of us was at a differentlevel of proficiency was these three languages.of The Storyof MyStory:An Anthropology Cuba later.My only "slightly" in fatherlearnedto speakEnglish his late twenties.' My WW I beinghungry. [After I].one by one. and boys after only a few monthsof Miguelbecame the best dancer in Manguito he and the onlyone who coulddo a pasadoble. revealingly namedElImperio DonMiguel bigdreams. leavingMiguel to head of a growing household. myfatherrealized province PuertoRico. movedto instruction. place Myfatherwantedonly "the best"for his children.4 theirweddinggownsin ElImperio. come fromSantoDomingo buy Others to French for the gownthey will sew for themselves. She'll youit'sthe tell government to get those gorgeous. any womanwho lace Ask works the Puerto for Rican aboutElImperio. Havana wherehe openedtwo storesof his own. had (TheEmpire). Spanishand with Yiddish.Despitehis dreams.Ambitious driven. By1961.when he joinedthe U. 'Andwhere'sthis one?''Herehe is!' 'Where's the otherone?''Heeerrre!" fatherwouldcry. Michael(as he was then known). between1924 and 1939.Dispossession. his brothers a generalstorein Manguito.S.and Diaspora his father-cry-crying.Later.but it us for didn'tworkout.He didn'twant us to or thosewerethe places although growup first. to my mother. an awkward all the Cuban withgirlfriends knewhowto dance. returned we penniless whereDonMiguel the Hispanic Caribbean rebuiltElImperio.' Canyou to give crying My imaginehow muchmy motherusedto suffer? fatherwent intothe to see whetherhe couldhandlesomething-to buyor sell-and street nothing.answered a British beauty he met in England. wherehe felt mostat home. smalltownin the ran and a Miguel that of As sixteenyearold.makingcommunication difficult. me something eat.he hadno moneywhatsoever. To and citizen. the El Imperioof Puerto Rico is very famous throughoutthe Caribbean partsof Latin and comefromVenezuela buy to Women America. I grew up in a householdwith three languages:English."I'ma Texanand this is how we talk in Texas!" 52 . silk tailored blousesand greatsuitsfor work. The Waserstein's arrivedin Cuba.the Cuban Revolution putthis pettymerchant had in the same category UnitedFruit General and the as Motors.

gave all of the aboutdiaspora. but the stowooedmewithamazing charmer Iwasintroduced MichaelWaterston. fatherhad my was hisownand This otherskillshe wantedus to develop.and besides. domineering obedience. Noneof us becameMiss America. underBatista meaboutdicandcorruption Cuba's Machado taught talityunder our in that whilethe intenseanxiety permeated household the years tatorship. Hisdescriptions livedin the town.'it's 'agua. 1945 althoughneitherone of us gave it of that label or wouldeven knowto knowit at the time.and to get there. howto smile.howto sit. where an Jews Jedwabne. father.ALISSE WATERSTON "It's there was endlesscriticism. (Spanish) language he'd preferwe keep awayfrom it. walk. vividanecdotes gaveme an early. Practice how to he had us practice. the pianist always wins!). studyotherthingslike ballet.howto playpiano(the most of "refined" the talents. My exacting aboutbrutaste His first-hand of patriarchy. 1959-1964 verypowerfully. soundlike a yanquithat way.From father. wouldsnapat us.pianoand howto set a lovely table.OnlylaterwouldI realizehow his storyshapedmysensibility that his sorrows becamemy sorrows. "You Miguel thoughno one else couldhear he'd add disdainfully. also learned. presence losspenetrating hisstories. I me a lessonaboutrevolution. providing service "respect" and to peasantry. Better we should concentrateon and English. to keytopicsincultural anthropology. 53 . would have to be crowned Miss America some day. butcomplete.andof course. ca. the difference. East community European pastoral Polish becamemyintroduction services the surrounding to farmers.After one of his daughters all. his 2004:18)and recognize (Hoffman WhenI "discovthem (Boyarin to lossesmy motivation understand 1996:31). not 'agua. My father'sattemptto seduce me with royalty had failed.'" Forhis children. butI wenton to studyanthropology. ries. American my soldier." Really. or seduction(Gallop Thedaughter's 1982)was unconscious preconscious.

whichaspectdo I child'sstory. Diaspora I ered" toward worldthe anthropology. Prevailing stereotypes that serve to exclude. marginalize and disvalue a group (and the individuals who fit into the category) constitute a collective 54 . in Manguito.knewit wouldbe myguide"outwards of events" ly shape (Hoffman 2004:16). includes) Ukrainian Burundi the Acheof Paraguay. Myfatheris now ninety-one yearsold. "Waserstein Co.. old farmer called out "Miguelito!" him remembering fromsome sixtyyearsago." decideto tell? I turn to anthropology guidance. Bengalis.(thelong list of victim groups sixty Rwandan Bosnians. to to then one yearlater.."-which my UncleJacobo's was & old storefront Havana thereafterfortyyears. I dancedwithyourbrother the also who Jos6!". An of TheStory My and Dispossession.mygrandfather's in the in still grave In we Jewishcemetery. modernity. am reminded my child not only my story.If was It nothingelse.I have returned the settingsof his life: First Cubawith him in the year2000. Armenians. Annihilation occurs"oftenafter nation-states embark upon lethal projectsof social engineeringintent upon eliminatingcertain undesirableand 'contaminating' elements of the population. foundmanymementos his life:the of we of truly who "I ninetyyearold womanin Manguito exclaimed.Hereros. Hutus.. sawthe conseof and quencesof centuries violentcontactbetweennation-states. the subseeffectson social groupswithinthose territories." million [people] were annihilated. the 20th century the epochof upheaval.a fadedpainted sign. Jews. with myhusband daughter Poland. In the past severalyears.El Figurin. "thedarkside of It's quent Alexander Laban Hinton tells us.of Story: Anthropology Violence. Gypsies.Cambodians. projects" Perhaps (2002:13). Tutsis." And the of is "manufacturing difference" a critical aspectof these socialengineering this is a key"mechanism" structural of violence. foundno relics. didn'tdancewithyou.whichis also my Withso manypartsand layersto the story. Inthe twentiethcentury alone. the Ogoni Nigeria" (2002:1).but also the storyof my story.. country and to a that is a graveyard Jews.InCuba.. The Storyof MyStory I that ". at the centerof the "machinery" politicaleconomy:socialforcesbecome of embodied as individual experience in the denigration of their difference. Hintongoes on.a disciplinethat has taughtme to for examinethe multipleconnectionsbetweenthe personand the history. peasants. Jedwabne. Guatemalan and of Mayans.Asa Jewit is my dutyto tell Every yearat Passover.

in Myfather's storyalso tells us aboutnation-building the modern painful era wherethe desireto belongleads peopleto submitand accommodate to states. for example.violentcontactproduces crisisof identity-of meaningWhoam I in relation the otherand to my pastself? to Thetheme of shiftingidentityrunsthroughout father's entirelife.Instead. LikeAmerica. Ideology.Inmyfather's an and case. livein SanJuanoverNewYork Miami.dehumanization.myfather's subupheavals disruptions sequenttroublesare rootedin the traumaof ideologyaboutthe groupand its purported social groupsare deemed dangerousand demonized.he intends to build an empire (ElImperio)and trains his daughtersfor Americanroyalty(MissAmerica).thatyearning belong. fiction.Meanwhile. displacement.difdehumanizing ference becomesan ideologicalinfection.Forindividuals their and cultural a groups. powerfulmechanismby which social forces become embodied as individualexperience. Thisdemonizingprocessis also a necessarybut insufficientconditionfor and genocide.Inthis way. diaspora. he cravedbecoming American yet powerful could never makea completeconversion. of an alien. and Wacquant a Bourdieu 1992). his searchfor respectabilito ty.marginalized disvalued.Hiswordsrevealthat powerful ideolomaking and gies are embeddedin a social and as politicalproject.the woundsintensify surface. to dignifying that demonizing withan apologiait does notwarrant.someonesuspect.he does not dismissas absurdthe accusationthat Jews kill he Christian children makematzoh. lost home.the conditionsare then ripefor individuals withinthat groupto becomethe objectsof policies of exclusionand expulsionas well as to become targetsof mob violence. 55 . personalidentity becomes muddledwith and ideologies.can internalize the harsh messagesdirectedat them (Gramsci 1971.meantime. ty"(Boyarinl996:28). Forexample. charge It seemsto me that keysteps in the manufacturing difference of include: use Edward Said'sexpression whilethe personsuffersthe "repressive of underside marginali(1995:105). to or never Spanish Miguel quitebecomesfully"American" althoughhis ambitionis to be alliedwith its strength. Gilman1986. is on the seekinga placeto be and to speak preferring overEnglish.ALISSE WATERSTON cultural As members.The excluded. So muchof myfather's of the storyis aboutthat manufacturing difference.The my of histimesbrought terrible to the self.self-loathing.and that he is filledwithself-doubt loathing.assimilation In people are not so muchlookingfor their long (internalization).

18 yearsold.and Diaspora of Inmyfather's the manufacturingdifference forthe mostpart of was succase.and it hasan old manpitifully begging slayer one kindof death overanother: When stablewasn'tbigenoughforall the Jewsto be burned the there. and he said. "Porfavor.Itis telling victimizationa keymotifof hisnarrative thathe that is and so oftendescribes himselfand his familyin the process running."[Please.Hebrew). Lord One'].Jedwabne a parable heroism suffering in three It languages Spanish. ['Hear O The our The is Each everyone of them. fathercontinues viewhislife"asif it werealwaysbeinglivedunderthe sign to of extermination" The doom is ever(Mintz 2001:163). an EastEuropean my As Jew. theme of impending in my father's and on The conversations. AdonaiEchad!' out. 15. Lord God. businesslostto bankruptcy) his wife lostto divorce a fifty-one marriage. his fear borders paranoia.The Storyof MyStory:An Anthropology Violence." is an of the tensionbetweenmythand fact is evidentin his stories. gottenoverthe feelings isolation lonelinessthatcomefrombeingcastout. of suffering. fatherhasnever stopped running. my to In father's is of and told hands.andthey putthem in a rowand they 'Next!'and 'Next!'and each one of them put them with hammers: screamed 'Shema Yisroel AdonaiElohenu.even as it "speaks truth" the violenceand horror.Theymade them dig a ditch. and Israel. And came an elderly fatherremainsburHaving dened by the definingeventsof the century.13.In his telling. canbarely stand all the tears. remains is stilllost. dame con un cuchillo en mi corazon. present meta-narrative inevitable of and destruction loss has actuallyplayedout in his life. it came his turn.Theboyshadto diga ditch. Dispossession. his empirehas crumbled properties (his the and after confiscated. 14.My rendifather's tion of the massacre Jedwabne a good example. victim. traveledthroughthe twentiethcentury. and they took them to the Jewishcemetery. shoutingthe main statementof theirJewishbelief (the Shema) the momentof their at his for deaths. Now ninety-one yearsold. father. stab me in the heart!]So he gave him a cuchilloen el corazon! 56 . took out the younger they people-you know. Hehasnever of and cessfully engineered.the story in is becomesa legend.fromforced I absence. Hisnarrative onlypartially accounting events-the "happenings. has youngboy-heroes (English. legathe was The year My cies of history reflected the psychology a manwho is botha sympaare in of theticcharacter terribly and narcissistic. he confused and barely My surviving.compelled repeat samestory to the overandoveragain. alsoa victimizer.

. poor. subjectto interpretation and his own narrative Schmulke of structure. At a Yom Kippur family dinner.economicand politicalinequalities rendered invisible propaganda rhetoric. my mother read to us from herown 57 .America's are usedas ideological toolsin the "manu1999).espeto of the writing aboutthe urbanpoorandthe "inner ghetto.S.and homeless... helplegitimate the restneedsupervision." social.I believein voice.but it has also broughtme awareness taughtme empathy. breeding placeof socialproblems the U. believemyworkshavetakenup that call. I turn to Jewish teachings for guidance. knowthat myfather's and I of experiences disand disenfranchisement directedme to studyoutsiders: have the placement the stigmatized. might we go? This time..andbe understood the generalpublicas justthe by it in way thingsare naturally-whether be homelessness the UnitedStates. PhilippeBourgois Put (2002)explains that"thenormalization structural of violencemeanscruelty injustice and can passforcommonsense. Jedwabne. guidance. once wrote(1994:1349). But I am also concerned about where the story has taken us. forgetting. Myworkalso represents what I have learnedfrom my father's withoutdiminishing own storyor denying uniquehis the experience nessof the eventsof his time. over over However silence." okay-that I see my own workon the urbanpooras partof the storyof my story.(Waterston ourtimes. Myresearch I and havebeendedicated opposing circulation falseimages.In poor of and are facturing difference. and of difference also by Ideologies we domination: believethatthosewho ruledeserve and"all to.Wemuststrongly challenge understanding these "things" it'sjustthe waythingsare"naturally. the industrial or apartheid (hereandelsewhere).an It the and important pieceof mylegacy." ciallymythsandstereotypes city that imaginary in 1993." Robert reform. (and) ultimately are forcedto accepttheirdehumanized status"(2002:369). prison complex merely poverunderneoliberal termsof trade"(see also Scheper-Hughes Bourgois and ty the that are 2004). gave voice to the massacred withouthim. as Crawford remembering. tellsstories for our times. brings pastintothe present. and where.ALISSE WATERSTON Bringingthe Past into the Present The storyof my story has broughtme sorrow.the storywouldgo untold. anotherway. genocide people'sufferin bothtimesof warand peace. I hope my workgivessome voiceto the voiceless. to NancyScheper-Hughes anthropologists examine"the'smallwars urges and invisible in takento an extremein genocides' whichstructural dynamics in aremanifest everyday 'Rubbish life. as we imagine the future.

1924 when President the Act proclaimed Immigration into law.familyand colleagueswho proto videdvaluableguidanceand insightin the developmentof this essay. ethnocentrism.. Diaspora father'sworn-outprayerbook.Weare at the dawn of a new centurythat seemsto nationalism in as Peopleare afraid promise muchviolenceas occurred the 20th century.I am verygrateful for and Barbara Rylko-Bauer her usefulcomments.Michael Waterston.Judaism towards men.the Calvin Coolidge 58 . the hatred as easilyas love. ENDNOTES 11 to would liketo expressmy deepest appreciation friends. I realize. Ellisand Bochner 2003.though..Cometo yoursensI es!"(2002:351).S. an anthropologist. I extendspecial thanksto the anonymousreviewers Anthropological for to Horowitz. and. Howard Louise PaulFarmer. 1890. narrative take us towards ings.her perceptiveness. Louisereadsfrom the sectiontitled Ethical Teachings: teachesthe unityof the humanrace. knowing justice. Reed-Danahay 20On rise of autoethnography ethnographic 2003.and the storyof my story. Dispossession.. Insteadof providing our and protection. herencouragement.I willworkfor peaceful I am not alone in seekingsuchgoals.and 'Love all alike. I fearto imagine future.trustthat I maykeepto mysenses. with the sufferingof individuals. the Once again I returnto anthropology and to Scheper-Hughes's advice.Atthis time. 1924 containeda provision Act of residentin the U.. and empathy. worstof just and war.confront that "Grapple structural violence. of annihilation desire protection.towards destruction.willfollowthe coursemyfather's As story has inspired.distorting otherends.the storyhas not taken us to justice.whether be forourprofit forourloss.I will I continue serveas moral to witness havehopeforunderstanding.I knowthat memory. DeeadraBrown.see Behar1996..Jewand non-Jew commands: thy of all-embracing to as and this love neighbor thyself. Judaism justice.[bean] engaged[notsilent]witness. Tedlock that set the annualquotato 2 3TheImmigration of May26.' declares command be the fundamental of principle the Jewish religion (n/d:319320). nationality percentof the numberof immigrants a particular InJuly. the and thankherfororganizing AAA panelthat helpedpushmyproject along. as the method.. worldleaders manipulating are theseemotions for deeplyfelt fears. will continueto tell my story.shaltthou To twice? teachus thatwe must pursue.'Justice. Quarterly. Waterston.Despitethe teachand can interpretation.embrace pain.' is the wordjusticewritten Why at it or practice justice alltimes. of resolution structural violence.An of and TheStory My of Story: Anthropology Violence. and to my father.

Thinking Jewish. and Interpreting Method to Context.1979. Boston:BeaconPress. de From Michael and Kimberly Mays Perez. Personal Narrative.Berkeley: Press.CA: edited by NormanK.Culture. Sociology. 2003. 59 . 4ElImperioappearsas an elegant shop in two novels by Puerto Ricannovelists:Rosario Ferr6's Houseon the Lagoon. . REFERENCES of Lila. TinaCasanova's The and Sambir6n. Reflexivity: S. Minneapolis: of Press. Writing Women's Worlds: BedouinStories. University Chicago the fromAuschwitz. 1992.ThousandOaks. HatoRey:Publicaciones Editores."In Collecting QualitativeMaterials. Sambir6n. Observer: that Heart. "OnSuffering and Structural Violence:A Viewfrom Below. Francisco: AuntLute. V.2002. Ferre's. Tuhami: Portrait a Moroccan. Thousand Oaks. of Chicago: Press. "Rethinking A. Gelya.Gloria. Robert.Louisiana. 1992.Boston: Behar. AIDS. 125(1):261-283. 199-258. Denzin and Yvonna S. in of Press. 1993." Collecting Interpreting as Qualitative Materials. University Chicago . Observation: Angrosino.Chicago: Boyarin. University Chicago Crapanzano.Notesof a NativeSon. Rosario. Boston: Beacon Press.Ruth.Pierreand LoicWacquant. TheVulnerable Anthropology BreaksYour BeaconPress.1994. The San 1987. California Press. 1996.1996. 2003. James. The Politics of Jewish Memory. Translated Woman:Crossingthe Border with Esperanza. Jonathan. Casanova. Storm from Paradise. University California 1995. Paul. Puertorriquefias of Vincent. TheHouseon the Lagoon. CA:Sage Publications. and Ithaca:Cornell Jane. An Invitationto Reflective Bourdieu. "Missing Holocaust.1996. Bochner.edited by Norman K. Borderlands/La Frontera: NewMestiza. Lincoln. Human Rights and the New War on the of Poor." Ethos7(1)Spring:68-94.1993." and SocialScience and Medicine 38(10):1347-1365. Pathologies of Power: Health. Chicago: of Press." Daedalus Farmer. . "TheBoundaries the Self and the Unhealthy of Other:Reflections Crawford. Baldwin.1984 (1955).NewYork: Strausand Giroux.Berkeley:University Abu-Lughod.Denzinand Yvonna Lincoln. on Health. 1982. Farrar. a A of Frank.2003. "Autoethnography. 107-175. History Seduction: Feminism Psychoanalysis. 982 people (Immigration Naturalization and quotafor new immigrants Service). University Minnesota Tina. TheDaughter's Gallop.1998. "Finding CommonDenominator: Phenomenological Critique Life Method. 1944." Paperpresentedat the 101st AnnualMeetingof the American Anthropological NewOrleans. Anzaldta.ALISSE WATERSTON from Polandwas 5. Association. Sage Publications.MyFather's Escape Bourgois. Carolyn and Arthur P.1980. University Press. Ellis. June Philippe. In and Researcher Subject.

The Rabbinical of Prayer Assembly America. Langness. Harvard Shostak. An of TheStory My and Dispossession. Selections from the PrisonNotebooks. University In 2003. The Said.New York:International Publishers. Denzin and YvonnaS.)2002. Diaspora and Anti-Semitism the HiddenLanguage the Gilman. "Ethnography Ethnographic and Tedlock. Lincoln. "Biography: CommonDenominator.edited by Norman K.348-381. 1985.1997. Memory of Press. Annihilating Hinton. 2002. Book.2002. 153). of A York: Harvest Inc. 1924 (43 Act Immigration Statutes-at-Large www.CA: Press. (January 2003). of University Washington A in Rican History. University The Laban(ed. Jeanne. University California Berkeley: Nancy and Philippe Bourgois. Chandler Sharp. EdwardW. SidneyW.Antonio. 1981. . Jews." Violence War Peace.1986. of NewYork: PublicAffairs."Presentedat the 101st Annual Meetingof the of American New Orleans. "Introduction: Scheper-Hughes. Berkeley: University California Eva.Oxford: Berg. "Coming our Senses:Anthropology Genocide.L.Harcourt. Immigration of May26. 35. Jane. Nisa: TheLifeand Words a KungWoman. "SmallWarsand InvisibleGenocides. New In Schulkind. Anthropology Genocide. Medicine 43(5):889-900.htm. of Cambridge: Press. 2004. Struggle PalestinianSelffor New Determination. Narratives Holocaustand Exile.AnAnthology.Barbara. and Novato. Malden.2001. "TurningPoints and Textual Strategiesin Ethnographic Writing.11-24." Studiesin Education Qualitative 15(4):421-425. and SuchKnowledge: Hoffman.of Story: Anthropology Violence. T.1981. 31. Louisiana. of of Press.Ithaca: University Gramsci.W.1996. An and GelyaFrank. 1964. Mintz.Marjorie. of in America. and Naturalization Service.ins.Alexander Difference. Deborah. Representation. NewYork: W." Annihilating and to In The edited by Alexander LabanHinton. History. Langness. Anthropology Genocide.1974 (1960). Durham: DukeUniversity Lazarre. Thousand Oaks. SocialScienceand Nancy. 1995. "Introduction. Rylko-Bauer. Gross. York: Vintage.Montreal.. Neighbors: Destruction theJewishCommunity Jedwabne. Lives: Anthropological to Approach Biography. A L. ReedDanahay.After Memory.1971.usdoj.n/d.Auto/ethnography: the Rewriting Self and the Social.Sander. edited by NancyScheper-Hughes In and PhilippeBourgois. Moments Being. . Jan of Princeton: Princeton Press.Worker the Cane: Puerto Life Norton& Company." Virginia Woolf. The in Poland." American of Association the Advancement Science.2001. Popular Culture theShaping Holocaust and Seattle: Mintz.2004.L. Anthropological Sabbath and Festival 1-31. the Legacy theHolocaust. Beyondthe Whiteness Whiteness. 2002." Scheper-Hughes. The Politics of Dispossession. "Introduction "Bringing Past into the Present:Family to the Barbara. for December. of of Press. MakingSense of in and Violence. Difference. Alan. Association.CA: Sage Publications.165-213. 2002." Strategies of QualitativeInquiry. 60 . JewishSelf-Hatred: of Cornell Press.MA: Blackwell Publishing. Paperpresentedto SectionH.L.

Waterston." TheShadow Memory: and the Borders betweenEthnography Life. Love. Rutgers NJ: University Press. Watson. "Outof the Shadowsof Historyand in In of PersonalFamilyNarratives Ethnographies Rediscovery. by AthenaMcLean AnnetteLeibing.ALISSE WATERSTON in Alisse. Press.1993 (1997). Philadelphia: TempleUniversity n. Philadelphia: Temple Press. Life Anthropological Inquiry.edited Sideof FieldWork: Theorizing Blurred and forthcoming. 1985. 1999. University . Sorrow and Rage: Destitute Women in a Manhattan Residence. Waterston. An Watson-Franke. and BarbaraRylko-Bauer. Interpreting Histories: Lawrence and Maria-Barbara C. Alisse.d. 61 .New Brunswick.Street Addicts the PoliticalEconomy.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful