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Title:Unexpected: History in the Now
Author(s):Williams, Beth Ann
Abstract:What does it mean for a place or person to have history? When used in the context of community, the phrase indicates a past connection. For historians of Africa it is a battle cry as we work to defend, understand, and showcase the rich past of a continent too often represented using a bleak present tense. These two interpretations of having history rub against each other in my research experience. I am a historian, traveling to Kenya and Tanzania in search of documents, memories, and images of years past. I am an outsider there, but one with historic connections, as this picture within a picture shows. I was surprised when my newly acquainted neighbor came giggling out of her house to present a picture of myself and my brother, an image from my early childhood locked out of my own memory suddenly brought forward to confront my present self. Such moments of unexpected levity and relationship are the richest rewards of research. Historians tell stories about the past, often with a desire to change our collective future. But in the process of research we are returned continually to the present and the blessings it has to offer.
Issue Date:2016-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Beth Ann Williams
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-04-15

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