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Subpoena surprise: Fred Thompson comes knocking.

At first I thought it was just an office prank. AU Legal Director Steve Green came up to my office and said a federal marshal with a subpoena from the U.S. Senate was in the lobby.


I went downstairs expecting to find a man in a gorilla suit with a bouquet of balloons as a belated birthday gift. I told Steve to have somebody bring a camera.

But there in the lobby stood a man who looked like a stereotypical U.S. marshal in a movie where the government serves notice on an organized crime lord. He flashed a badge -- and it soon became apparent that he was a real marshal and he had a real subpoena from Sen. Fred Thompson (who played stereotypical political roles in movies before getting elected to the Senate in 1994). Thompson is chairman of the powerfu] Governmental Affairs Committee investigating campaign irregularities and foreign money contributions in the 1996 election.

The first thought that popped into my head was, "What is this guy doing here? Did he come into the wrong building?" I don't even look like a gangster, a wealthy influence peddler or a Hong Kong businessman. But the subpoena had Americans United's name on it. I signed for it and went into our conference room for a quick read.

It is an extraordinary document. It demanded that by August 22, 1997, Americans United deliver every piece of paper we produced during 1995 and 1996 that related to our involvement in election campaigns. That's easy -- there aren't any.

But the subpoena also demanded all our documents about "publicly debated issues." Here's where things get tricky. I can understand why the committee might have an interest in political involvement by non-profit groups. By law, Americans United and other non-profits are not permitted to intervene in partisan elections. But we have not done that -- or even anything close to it.

But this business about "publicly debated" issues throws me. Americans United has every right, as an issue-based organization, to generate this type of information. It's why we exist. We are lawfully permitted to alert our members and the public to legislation posing a danger to church-state separation. We are permitted to advocate for church-state separation. However, internal documents about issue strategies, correspondence with individual AU members or members of Congress or materials never released publicly should not be open to the prying eyes of a Senate committee.

Over the next few days, I got a quick legal education in the Kafkaesque world of congressional subpoenas. The bottom line: You have far fewer rights than you would in a court of law. It is exceedingly difficult to meaningfully challenge the breadth of your subpoena or claim any privileges -- such as a lawyer-client privilege -- to withhold documents.

If the committee wants something and you don't give it up or answer the committee's questions, you can be held in contempt of Congress. Only as you are packing your toothbrush for the federal penitentiary can you then file a lawsuit and make your case before a federal judge.

As for rules to determine who is called to give evidence to these committees, they are equally non-existent. Forget "probable cause" that a crime has been committed, or "reasonable suspicion" of unlawful activity -- statements familiar to viewers of Court TV and police movies. The Senate committee counsel freely admits they have absolutely no evidence to suggest that AU has done anything improper and that they "don't know what we're looking for until we see it."

Essentially, this is a world-class fishing expedition. What made the committee zero in on Americans United? The counsel noted that we are mentioned in the media a lot. In other words, if we do our job well, we will be noticed and set up for harassment.

But it gets even worse. One Democratic staffer said AU was subpoenaed as a way of "extracting revenge" after committee Democrats put the Christian Coalition on the list of non-profit organizations to investigate. Ironically, we have been reporting on what we think is unlawful Christian Coalition activity for years; yet even CC leaders have never said we do anything illegal.

We have obtained counsel from a well-known Washington law firm. They will try to convince the committee that it is improper to subject Americans United to such extensive and intrusive demands for material about quintessential. First amendment protected activity.

We have nothing to hide, but we do have real work to do. We could spend weeks fulfilling the demands of a political vendetta. On the other hand, providing nothing will not allow us to clear our name and, if held in contempt, we would have to expend vast resources on legal maneuvers.

I tend to believe that the federal government is more a friend than an enemy. I'm no conspiracy theorist who finds plots against politically controversial groups and individuals around every corner. However, the abominable practice of going on a taxpayer-funded witch-hunt against perfectly lawful activities is just the kind of political abuse of power that drives people in those directions.

I'll keep you posted on developments. For the time being, all Americans United members can take some solace in being associated with a group so competent that our opponents will stoop to these shameful tactics to badger us.

Barry W. Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The epidemic proportions of childhood sexual abuse in the United States, including the commonplace nature of incestuous abuse, were brought to the public's attention starting in the mid- to late 1970s and early, 1980s with such works as Sandra Butler's Conspiracy of Silence (1978), Florence Rush's The Best Kept Secret (1980), Judith Herman's Father-Daughter Incest (1981), and many more. An important aspect of these findings about childhood sexual abuse was the realization that a significant number of adult women and men had actually forgotten or repressed memories of childhood sexual assault that could be recalled or "recovered" either spontaneously or during the process of therapeutic treatment (Bass and Davis 1992; Herman 1992; Waites 1993).

However, since the mid-1990s the idea that recovered memories are either patently false or induced by the therapeutic process itself has begun to gain popularity and credence (see Cunningham nd.; Haaken 1996).(1) In media shorthand, this is termed the "problem" of "false memory."(2) According to a source in Networker, a professional therapy Journal, "By the end of 1994, more than 300 articles on `false memory' had appeared in magazines and newspapers" (Butler 1995, 37).(3) While some of these articles take a measured tone, others tell sensationalized stories of families being sundered by a daughter's "false" accusations against her father, or of families snuggling to come together again after a daughter's retraction of incest charges (Watters 1993; Begly 1994, 2D-3D; McCarthy 1995). A number of these newspaper and magazine stories originate with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, an organization of parents formed to combat their children's incest and abuse charges. This organization, listing four thousand members, forty-eight chapters, and an annual budget of $700,000 (Butler 1995), defends accused perpetrators and denies the validity of recovered memories through a coordinated media campaign that includes advertising, a newsletter, and the dissemination of news reports about "false memory."(4)

Professional studies disputing recovered memory have also begun to be written and reviewed -- the most notable being The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham (1994) and Making Monsters: False Memories, Psycho therapy, and Sexual Hysteria by Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters (1994) (see also Pendergrast 1994). The recent Frontline documentary, Divided Memories by Ofra Bikel,(5) while ostensibly balanced in its investigation, "makes its point" (Goodman 1995, B6) against the credibility of recovered memory by contrasting fringe therapists who regard past life regression and recovered memory in the same light (and are supportive of both) with more conventional experts who question the premise of recovered memory Denouncements of the therapeutic "incest industry" abound, attributing to feminist therapists financial and personal motives for planting incest memories in the minds of (mainly) daughters, whom the parents regard as deluded victims of the therapists' manipulations.

While the majority of these representative and mainstream pieces stop short of denying the existence of actual incest in epidemic proportions, all are far less concerned with addressing that criminal reality than with discrediting what the most serious and scientifically legitimate among them would likely acknowledge to be the minority of cases in which the incest exist only in fantasy form.(6) As Judith Herman has written, "Repression, dissociation, and denial are phenomena of social as well as individual consciousness" (1992, 9).

Although I find it likely that some reports of incest and/or recovered memory are untrue, or untrue in large part, the breadth and vehemence of their denial are indicative not only of an antifeminist backlash at work but also of an unproductive rejection of any possible relationship between fantasy and historical truth. Fantasy and truth, I argue, may, and do, go hand in hand.

The temptation is to combat the denial of recovered incest memory by turning to what Michael Frisch calls the "supply side" approach to public history: we need facts, lots of them, to prove beyond a doubt that incest was and is an abuse of epidemic proportions or that the Holocaust, horrifically, took place; lees not worry about the possibility that history is "structured, variable, and problematic" or about "the relationship between history and the process of memory" (1990, 15-16). The idea that "physical residues of all events may yield potentially unlimited access to the past" or that "the whole historical record survive[s] somewhere (and] given the right techniques, nothing would elude retrieval" (Lowenthal 1985, 19) assumes a genuine attraction in our historically amnesiac age.(7) When documented physical events such as the Holocaust or childhood sexual abuse may be denied, either categorically or through a series of rhetorical shifts, in the face of all manner of concrete evidence of their existence, one turns energetically toward any evidence that can serve to rebut.

All of this is enough to make one question the otherwise compelling literature of new historical studies, the writings of Hayden White, E. H. Carr, Michael Foucault, Dominick LaCapra, and others, where the constructed nature of the past and the centrality of interpretation to historiography have been so convincingly argued. And one understands from this perspective why some historians such as Saul Friedlander who write about Holocaust denial have been critical of deconstructionist approaches that support the "primacy of the rhetorical dimension ... of the historical text" and affirm the "impossibility of establishing any direct reference to some aspects at least of the concrete reality that we call the Shoah" (1992, 52).(8)

However, the retreat from textual studies approaches to a renewed belief in the transparency of "supply side" or empirical approaches would be a gross error. In fact, in what follows, and with an acknowledged debt to the work of Hayden White (1992, 1996), I suggest the opposite: that empirically based realist historiography may riot be the most appropriate mode for certain historical representations because it may not take into sufficient account the vicissitudes of historical representation and memory. We have an ethical and political obligation to remember, acknowledge constantly, and deal with traumatic events of the past.(9) But, at the same time, we must acknowledge that these events are subject to interpretation as they are remembered, spoken of, written down, or visually communicated. In other words, precisely because the past is open to partisan rereadings, there is a dire need to develop ways to understand representations of the past as texts that adhere nevertheless to historical reality. My aim, therefore, is to show the benefits for historiography of a whole repertoire of textual possibilities that may include, as I argue below, filmic strategies of fiction and reenactment informed by ideas about mental processes of trauma, memory, and fantasy.

In this article I make the case that certain writings in contemporary psychology are deeply productive when brought together with the insights and impasses of contemporary historiography. Contemporary psychological literature on trauma can offer an alternative both to the "who is telling the truth/whose memories are more accurate"(10) line of debate that has characterized juridical and popular discourses about childhood sexual abuse and Holocaust studies and to documentary realism as a traditional mode of historiography off particular interest here is a phenomenon I call the "traumatic paradox": the defiant fact that external trauma itself can produce the very modifications in remembered detail that cultural conventions invalidate in determinations of truth.

The case of Eileen Franklin-Lipsker and her father, George Franklin, is illustrative. On November 30, 1990, a jury found George Franklin guilty in the first degree of the 1969 murder of eight-year-old Susan Nason. According; to the jury's finding and to Lenore Terr's account in Unchained Memories (1994), Eileen had been present and had witnessed the crime that began with Susan's rape. Terr, who had been an expert witness for the prosecution, describes in her book how Franklin-Lipsker repressed the memory of her father's actions only to recall them twenty years later -- the recall triggered by the tilt of her own daughter's head and her daughter's similar appearance to that of the murdered girl. Franklin was convicted in spite of expert testimony for the defense by memory researcher and False Memory Syndrome Foundation board member Elizabeth Loftus, who argued strenuously against the possibility of repressed memory. Franklin-Lipsker could not have lost such a memory, Loftus maintained, and therefore it must not have been a true memory at all. Loftus also used the content of the memories themselves to undermine their validity. Eileen Franklin-Lipsker's memories in fact were mistaken in several details: the murdered girl did not wear a sweater or jacket, she was not buried where she was killed, nor was she covered with a mattress from the murderer's van. These discrepancies for Loftus, although remarkably not for the jury that found George Franklin guilty, were additional evidence that the memories were false.

At the root of the case is the question of the relationship among trauma, memory, and past events. In 1995 Franklin's conviction was overturned, and he remained in jail awaiting a second trial (Lewin 1995, A18). Although the reasons for the verdict's reversal are constitutional, defense attorneys argued consistently against the validity of recovered memories in general and contended that Franklin-Lipsker's memory, in particular, is "an unstable machine that generates wildly contradictory images" (Dolan 1996, A3).(11) Ultimately, it was decided that Franklin would not be retried, and in 1996 he was released from prison (Curtius 1996, A1).

The claim that a misremembered aspect necessarily negates the reality of a whole historical account is disputed by other scholars and writers on history and memory, from Loftus's field of psychology and from other fields including literary criticism and historiography, who describe witness testimony as having a more intricate relation to historical reality. For example, Deborah Lipstadt (1993) and Pierre Vidal-Naquet (1992), historians of Holocaust denial, each take issue with the Holocaust "revisionists" who use inconsistencies within and between the testimonies of Holocaust survivors and Holocaust historians to argue that Jewish genocide during World War II never actually took place. Inconsistencies in testimony cast, they agree, but it simply does not follow that the central events of the Holocaust may be denied on that basis. In fact, total consistency rather than differing subjective memories would be more suggestive of confabulation (see Vidal-Naquet 1992; Lipstadt 1993, esp. 58-61).

A large portion of Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History by Shoshana Felman and Don Laub (1992) is concerned precisely with exploring the mechanisms through winch eyewitnesses to actual historical events entertain memories and deliver testimonies that are divergent often to the point of incommensurability. The contention that a fallible memory may speak to a historical truth is made through Laub's description of an experience with oral testimony and the Holocaust. A woman in her late sixties testified to researchers from the Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University that she had seen four chimneys explode as a result of actions during the Auschwitz uprising. "The flames shot into the sky," she recounted, "people were running. It was unbelievable" (Laub 1992, 59). Apparently, it was unbelievable. At a subsequent convocation of historians watching the videotape of this testimony, the accuracy of the woman's account was questioned. In fact, only one chimney, and not all four, had been destroyed. Thus, as Laub explains, the historians discredited the woman's account: "Since the memory of the testifying woman turned out to be, in this way, fallible, one could not accept -- nor give credence to -- her whole account of the events" (59-60). But Laub disagreed:

She was testifying not simply to empirical historical facts, but to the

very secret of survival and to resistance to extermination.... She saw

four chimneys blowing up in Auschwitz: she saw, in other words, the

unimaginable.... And she came to testify to the unbelievability,

precisely, of what she had eyewitnessed -- this bursting open of the

frame of Auschwitz.... Because the testifier did not know the number of

the chimneys that blew up . . . , the historians said that she knew

nothing I thought that she knew more, since she knew about the

breakage of the frame, that her very testimony was now reenacting. (59-63)

Laub's unconventional point is that the register of reality testified to here is not just empirical but abstract. It is precisely the quality of exaggeration that gives this memory its historical resonance -- that transforms what E. H. Carr would call a "fact of the past" into a "historical fact" (1961, chap. 1). Thus, for Laub, and also for Felman, as the latter illustrates through the example of the documentary film Shoah, a catastrophic event such as the Holocaust is an "unprecedented, inconceivable historical advent of an event without a witness ... an accidenting of perception ... a splitting of eyewitnessing" that "radically annihilates the recourse (the appeal) to visual corroboration" (Felman 1992, 211; emphasis in original). I concur with these thoughts and would want to emphasize what is assumed by Laub and Felman: these are not discussions of wholly made up events. In the example Laub gives, the memory itself, although exaggerated, still preserves the true import of the events. One chimney did blow up; the memory is partly but not utterly fantastic.

Significant psychological writing on trauma and memory confirms that real, exogenous traumas "will often be accompanied by symptoms of post-traumatic stress, which itself is often accompanied by the disruption and dissociation of memory" (Schwarz and Gilligan 1995, 22, paraphrasing Terr). Biological symptoms can "bear witness to the actualities of traumatic events' for which a person has no active memory (Waites 1993, 36). Terr provides an example of this in her report that Franklin-Lipsker had developed over the years the habit of "pulling out the hair on one side of her head, creating a big, bleeding bald spot near the crown" subsequent to having seen her father crush the skull of her best friend with a rock (1994, 35). That these symptoms predated Franklin-Lipsker's conscious recovery of the memory of the murder attests to the validity of that memory. Yet, at the same time that a traumatic experience can produce this sort of trail of symptoms leading to the legitimation of memory, traumatic experiences, especially when repeated over time as in many cases of incest, can also produce fantasies, repressions, misperceptions, and interpretations created by the actual events, although not realistically representative of them (Waites 1993, esp. chap. 1). In other words, another common response to real trauma is fantasy. Children especially learn to deal with repeated trauma by dissociating (splitting) or repressing the events during and after their occurrence (64-67). It is very possible that Franklin-Lipsker, while habitually pulling the hair from her head, forgot on a conscious level the rape and killing she had witnessed.


It is on the basis of this "traumatic paradox" that I argue that the films and videos most effective politically to redress real abuses of the past are not necessarily those that represent realistic character stories in fictional or nonfictional form but, rather, are those that figure the traumatic past as meaningful yet as fragmentary, virtually unspeakable, and striated with fantasy constructions.

Still, one understands the urge to represent the past with details and artifacts intact. One understands, for example, that the makers of television movies about childhood sexual assault operating from a feminist perspective would want to do their best to render that abuse imagistically They aim, in other words, to provide illustrations for acts that may otherwise go unseen and unbelieved. They aim to fill with pictures the void created by the real impossibility to resurrect memory as shared and validated history and by mainstream cinema's historical reticence to represent incest or other childhood sexual abuse. Feature films tend to disavow any real possibility of incest. Kings Row (1942), for example, rewrites the father-daughter incest of its best-selling source novel as dementia praecox on the part of the daughter.(12) The John Huston film Freud (1962) pictures the preamble to father-daughter incest, only to have that image belied later by the grown daughter's recantation (Walker and Waldman 1993; Walker 1993, in press).(13) Television movies, in contrast, including the pathbreaking Sybil (1973), Something about Amelia (1984), Liar Liar (1993), and Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story (1993), have taken pains to validate the incest memories of their heroines by depicting, subjectively but deliberately, the gestural acts leading up to and/or encompassing the sexual abuse.(14) These movies have joined feminist nonfiction literature in the project to make the fact of incest public knowledge.

In Sybil, based on the actual case history by Flora Rheta Schreiber (1973), a therapist (Joanne Woodward) treats Sybil (Sally Field), a patient who is suffering from multiple personality disorder(15) During the course of treatment, the therapist journeys to her patient's childhood home to search for corroborating evidence of childhood abuse. From its attic storage, she withdraws a toy box that does indeed bear on its inner sides the purple crayon scribbles made by the child Sybil while confined for punishment inside the box. This artifact serves in its rum to corroborate a memory, rendered in a strange high-angle shot, in which Sybil is sexually abused by her mother under the guise of a gynecological "examination."(16)

Liar Liar and Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story turn from the detective to the juridical mode to shore up their respective proofs. In both television movies, incest memories are rendered visually in the context of legal proceedings against incest aggressors. In Liar Liar a daughter's allegations of incest provide the film's enigma -- "Who's telling the truth, The loving father or the daughter known for the wild stories she tells?" As in Mildred Pierce (1945), where the reverse shot of Monte Beragon's killer is withheld until the film's conclusion, so in Liar Liar a significant encounter between father and daughter takes place initially behind a dosed bathroom door and is only revealed visually at the film's conclusion.(17) This delaying device serves to enhance the truth value of the events we see when they are finally supplied, for they function hermeneutically as the solution to the original enigma.

In Shattered Trust. The Shari Karney Story (based, like Sybil, on a true story), an attorney's own repressed incest memories are triggered during her attempt to represent the mother of a three-year-old paternal incest victim in a custody battle with the child's father Karney's memories are validated in the movie not only through their imagistic representation, once again in subjective fragments from the point of view of a child, but in the Karney character's symptomology identified as having predated her recovery of the incest memories: she wears oversized clothing, has a makeup phobia, and experiences panic attacks during sexual intercourse.

These three texts are didactic and partisan in nature. They build wails of evidence to assert the reality of incest, trails that crisscross the terrain of narrative (the toy box at the center of Sybil) and link up with the peripheral paths of the actual (Shari Karney's real-life success at enacting legislation allowing for "delayed discovery"--suspending the statute of limitations on incest in cases where the incest memories are repressed until such time as the memories are recovered).

However, it is my contention that such essentially realist renderings of incestuous memory are bound to experience a rhetorical fraying Their revelations cannot hold sway in a culture where cultural and social authority continues to be vested in men and where the past is subject, for better and worse, to the fluctuations of memory and historical interpretation. The irony of fictionalized or reenacted representations of incest is that these strategies can offer absolute visual and even retrospective confirmation of that which in real life would be mediated by memory and our imperfect access to facts of the past.

Strategically, to rest a case exposing incest on an individual story, no matter how representative, will open the way for rebuttal in the form of competing character stones ("I-stones" in Louise Armstrong's [1994]) in which incest memories turn out to be false. In general, the concentration on "I-stories" encourages a form of historical interpretation that is relativistic in nature, where every story is as truthful (or as false) as the next, and where actual assault cannot therefore be acknowledged except as one opinion among many about what really happened. Politically' the trail through the evidentiary and/or the juridical will break down in the absence of a mass movement to redress gender inequity because of the partisan nature of historical interpretation.

However, there exist a growing number of documentary films about traumatic events of the past that push the bounds of representing actuality beyond realist representation toward an alternative representational mode, which I believe addresses the problem of relativism. In a piece dealing with the inexpungeable reality of Nazism and the Final Solution, Hayden White (1992) argues that it is not that the events of which he speaks are unreal or unrepresentable but, rather, that they are unrepresentable in the realist mode. Modernism, he proposes, "appears, less as a rejection of the realist project and a denial of history, than as an anticipation of a new from of historical reality, a reality that included, among its supposedly unimaginable, unthinkable, and unspeakable aspects, the phenomena of Hitlerism, the Final Solution, total war, nuclear contamination, mass starvation, and ecological suicide" and, I would add, epidemic and pandemic: sexual assault in the contexts of war and peace (White 1996, 51-52; emphasis in original).

The films and videos History and Memory (Rea Tajiri, 1991), The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 1987), First Person Plural (Lynn Hershman, 1990), Who Killed Vincent Chin? (Christine Choy and Renee Tajima, 1988), The Ties That Bind (Su Friedrich, 1984), Shoab (Claude Lanzmann, 1985), and Moving the Mountain (Michael Apted, 1994), among a significant number of others, arc concerned with the way in which truths about traumatic past events or catastrophic histories are difficult but not impossible to know, and they are concerned too about the resonance of such past knowledge in the present.(18) As Linda Williams writes, having identified a similar group of films for their simultaneous interest in truth telling and documentary manipulation: "What interests me particularly is the way a special few of these documentaries handle the problem of figuring traumatic historical truths inaccessible to representation by any simple or single `mirror with a memory,' and how this mirror nevertheless operates in complicated and indirect refractions" (1993, 12).

In the idiom of documentary aesthetics these films and videos tend to adopt a historiographic language analogous to that which Saul Friedlander advocates for historical writing. That is, either overtly or implicitly, these documentaries are built around an enunciative presence comparable to Friedlander's "commentary" that "disrupt[s] the facile linear progression of the narration, introduce[s] alternate interpretations, question[s] any partial conclusion, [and] withstand[s] the need for closure" (1992, 53). Under this organization, the words and experience of any one interview subject or protagonist are qualified and correlated to other evidence and commentary presented in the film. They are "triangulated," as anthropologists might say, with written documents and historical interpretation, so that their partial truths and partial misperceptions might emerge in the Place of a reductive true/false regime. For example, in The Ties That Bind, handwritten titles spell out phrases such as "so you did know" on a black background, thereby interrupting and qualifying a woman's contemporary oral testimony that as a young woman in Germany she did not know about the genocidal mission of the concentration camps. Structurally, these films and videos are each compiled of different types of footage, including archival, interview, and amateur footage, titles used as commentary, found fictional footage, and stylized reenactment. In keeping with Friedlander's description of the writing of traumatic history, these films and videos "introduce splintered or constantly recurring refractions of a traumatic past by using any number of different vantage points" (1992, 53).

As is well known, the traumatic event at the center of The Thin Blue Line is the murder of a Dallas policeman that took place more than a decade before the film was shot. This event is reenacted over the course of the film more than a dozen times, differently We see the event from many alternative angles and perspectives, in part and in full, in slow motion and real time, as the film struggles (using interviews, police records, court transcripts, and newly shot footage of the Dallas cityscape) to make sense of the supposed witnesses' stones or, conversely, to show that they do not add up to the guilt of Randall Adams, the man imprisoned for more than ten years for the killing. If, as the psychological literature on trauma explains, "severe trauma explodes the cohesion of consciousness" (Shay 1994, 188), then this text, unlike the television movies on incest, is traumatized. Its components exist in an "altered and exaggerated state" (Herman 1992, 34), chronological linearity has been broken, and the text is fragmented, marked by repetition, and centered on an event it simultaneously calls attention to and deflects attention from.

Similarly, History and Memory represents the traumatic past: in this case, the U.S. internment of Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans during World War II and, specifically, the internment of the filmmaker's mother before her birth (see Marks 1994; Nichols 1994; Renov 1994). "I began searching for a history," filmmaker Tajiri says in voice-over, "my own history. Because I had known all along that the stones I had heard were not true and parts had been left out." Like The Thin Blue Line, this text is made up of snippets of film conveying impressions not fully registered and footage in different modalities on the continuum between documentary and fiction. A mere thirty-two minutes in length, the film includes rare archival footage (shot with a contraband movie camera) of the relocation camp in Poston, Arizona, scenes from period newsreels pitching internment to the American public, scenes from the few Hollywood films to treat anti-Japanese racism, archival and personally collected photographs, and scenes of present-day Poston and of the Salinas Rodeo Grounds barracks where Tajiri's mother was initially held. Voice-over narration is heard and written texts are displayed by means of crawls over black backgrounds or super imposed as commentary over images from various sources. Also included in the film are several reenactments to which I will return below. Overall, the film exists, as the filmmaker explains in voice-over, as an answer to her mother's silence, forgetting, sadness, and shame, as an image given to her mother to stand where she had none, to call attention to the "unspeakable"--here both spoken and shied away from by the elliptical style of the film.

What strikes me, though, about both History and Memory and The Thin Blue Line is their simultaneous refusal of the realist mode and insistence on a naked truth: that David Harris and not Randall Adams killed the cop in The Thin Blue Line and, in Tajiri's film, that Japanese and Japanese Amen cans were interned in camps during World War II. In both films the representation of traumatic past events is responsive not only to the reliability of historical memory and material documentation but to the additional qualities of memory including repression, silence, ellipsis, elaboration, and fantasy.

A particularly impressive moment in History and Memory is a passage concerning a little wooden bird that Tajiri speaks of having discovered as a child in her mother's jewelry box and that her mother said was a gift from Tajiri's grandmother. We see the bird floating in a black background, and Tajiri provides us with the story of its origin. While doing research at the National Archives in Washington, she narrates, she came across an archival photograph that included her grandmother seated at a long table with other Japanese men and women. Turning the picture over, Tajiri read, "Bird carving class. Poston, Arizona" In this way, autobiography, in the form of a coveted trinket from her past, is connected to collective history.(19) This connection is made visually apparent in a video special effect in which the grandmothers image, isolated at first against a solid background, is "joined" by the images of her fellow bird-carving classmates as the rest of the whole photograph is faded in. Thus a wooden bird leaves a trail of historical shavings that may be followed back to its place of origin; objects testify to the reality of the events from which they were carved out.

But consider also another recurring image from the film: a woman catching water in a canteen and bathing her face with the cooling liquid. We see the woman initially from the rear in a high-angle shot reminiscent of the kind of oblique approach found in dream images, and later from the front in close-up. In each of the many occurrences the image is slowed and accompanied by the disembodied sound of running water, adding to the dreamlike effect. Tajiri recounts, "I don't know where this came from, but I just had this fragment, this picture that's always been in my mind. My mother, she's standing at the faucet and it's really hot outside. And she's filling this canteen and the water's really cold and it feels really good. And outside the surfs just so hot, it's just beating down" But, as we learn, this is not an image she actually could have seen since her mother was released from the camp before Tajiri's birth. It may have come from an overheard conversation or perhaps from a dream -- in this sense it is false. And yet, it too testifies to a historical truth: an actual mother who was interned in a hot, and land to which the Japanese people in the camps really did bring water "For years I've been living with this picture without the story," says Tajiri about the fragment from her mother's past, "but now I found I could connect the picture to the story and could make this image for her."

The filmmaker daughter's sense that her mother Lacks and/or needs an image of the past is perhaps a response to the gaps in her mother's memory of the events of her forced relocation and internment. "I don't remember how we ... I don't remember how we got there because we had to sell our car and everything and I'm not. ... All I know is just a brief train ride as we got to Poston, you know, and the blinds were down and all that. But that's all I remember," explains Tajiri's mother in voice-over accompanied by a blurred view of desert scenery taken from the window of a moving vehicle. But as Tajiri's graphic on-screen commentary notes in a slightly earlier passage about her mother's faulty memory,

She tells the

story of what

she does not

remember But

remembers one

thing: why she

forgot to


"I don't remember any of this stuff," says the mother in simultaneous voice-over. "All I remember is if you ... ah ... when I saw this woman who had lost her mind you know ... a beautiful woman ... beautiful young girl. ... How did this happen? You can go out of your mind, so you just put those things out of your mind, you know" (emphasis mine). As Tajiri indicates, what her mother testifies to is why she has forgotten: because "you can even go out of your mind"; or because your memories might be denied, as in the case of an acquaintance of Tajiri's aunt who refused to believe the truth of Japanese American internment, or, in the film's own terms, because your memories might be cast in a different light, as in the U.S. War Department footage where relocation is sold to Americans as a public necessity and harmless defensive measure. Thus History and Memory, like Shoah, is "a film about silence: the paradoxical articulation of a loss of voice -- and of remembrance, but for the self-negating, contradictory, conflictual remembrance of -- precisely -- an amnesia" (Felman 1992, 224; emphasis in original). The reconstructed image of Tajiri's mother testifies to an "inconceivable historical event," whose memory is, very precisely, to be avoided.

Moreover, as a reconstruction, the repeated image of Tajiri's mother is of course not really the mother at all, but a younger actress. In this sense too, the image is that of an absence, or of the absence of memory. In fact, although she speaks on the film's audio track, on the image track Tajiri's mother exist only partially, here and there, as a small figure in an old family photograph, or just offscreen except perhaps for glimpses of her face and her hands on the steering wheel of the car she drives past the Salinas Rodeo Grounds, where she was initially held for relocation.

A passage near the middle of History and Memory is reminiscent of Alain Resnais's Night and Fog in that the camp and its environs (the rodeo grounds; Parker Station, where the train deposited the deportees at camp; a floor plan of the barracks where Tajiri's mother was housed; and the muted desertscape of the present) arc depicted empty of their inhabitants.(20) But, again like Night and Fog, History and Memory's way of handling its desperate imagery is not simply to fill in realistic images of places that Tajiri's mother could not see because "the blinds were down" Instead, the passage is constructed to reveal the centrality of forgetting and interpretation in the historical process. The mother's line, "All I know is just a brief train ride as we got to Poston, you know, and the blinds were down and all that" is repeated a second time over footage of a train from the 1954 Hollywood film Bad Day at Black Rock about a western town's cover-up of the murder of a Japanese American who had made money by bringing water to the land.(21) Simultaneously, a graphic reads "On July 5, 1942 my mother went on a train to Poston. She didn't see the view. On April 12, 1988 I went to Poston in a rental car and filmed the view for her." An audio description by Tapes mother is then heard of how they were prevented from looking out the train windows during relocation. This is followed by a passage from the 1990 Alan Parker film Come See the Paradise about Japanese and Japanese-American internment.(22) "Why are the blinds down?" questions the Tamlyn Tomita character as she boards the train for relocation. "So we won't know where were going," answers her companion. In this complicated passage, the film is concerned to constitute a forgotten or denied history, to constitute it not through realist assertions of past events, but through a fragmented structure that acknowledges the gaps of and resistances to history and memory "I could identify with the search for an ever absent images," speaks Tajiri in voice-over, "and the desire to awe an image where there are so few" (emphasis mine).

Thus, while History and Memory asserts the historical legitimacy of the mother's past recall (e.g., she remembers that there was no canteen at the Salinas Rodeo Grounds, where she was first held, and that her camp address in Poston was Block 213, Unit 11a), it simultaneously writes into history what could not be grasped at the time, not even by the very participants of the events as they unfolded. This gives the film the status of what Cathy Caruth would call a "history of trauma," a history of events that are forgotten in their very experiencing. "The historical power of the trauma is not just that the experience is repeated after its forgetting, but that it is only in and through its inherent forgetting that it is first experienced at all ... For history to be the history of trauma means that it is referential precisely to the extent that it is not fully perceived as it occurs" (1991, 187). The pattern of the film, then, in response to a traumatic past, is to constitute itself as a work of "delayed historical understanding" (Friedlander 1992, 43) through the acknowledgment of forgetting as well as through the use of recurring and reconstructed images from the past and thoughts about it.

First Person Plural by Lynn Hershman would seem at first glance to be a world apart from the historical project of History and Memory, to rethink the historiography of Japanese and Japanese-American internment. As a raw confessional video work structured around Hershman's direct address to the camera about her history of childhood physical and sexual abuse, the force of this piece seems inward turning and personal rather than largely documentary in nature (see Lesage 1995, in press). However, First Person Plural is deeply concerned with the realm of the "plural" -- with the social psychology as well as the personal psychology of abuse. And, like History and Memory and The Thin Blue Line, Hershman's piece considers the fluid boundaries of history, memory, and fantasy

Hershman states directly to the camera that she is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse. Although one self avowed purpose of the piece is to come forward with that previously secret knowledge ("It helps me to talk about it, but I know it's painful to listen"), the actual work of the piece is to make connections that are elusive and abstract rather than bald and concrete. Equally important to revealing a history of abuse is the issue of secrecy itself, the acknowledgment of the family complicity that supports the hidden abusive activities. Thus, Hershman includes several passages about the prohibition against admission. Several times throughout the piece we see a shot of her in the dark whispering, "You're not supposed to talk about it," and we see several tunes a giant close-up of her lips mouthing "don't tell." That revelation and the prohibition against it go hand in hand is further illustrated in the talking head of Hershman standing in front of a wall covered with the words "Do not say it" and "Don't talk?." She does talk, speaking of how she would tend to be attracted to abusive men, and ultimately the prohibitive graffiti is wiped out by her image grown large.

The use of multiple selves also militates against the video's taking a realist approach to truth. The tapes suggestion that Hershman's self can encompass a range of different personalities with presumably different memories of the past exists in contradiction to mom journalistic forms where direct and incontestable testimony is valued. This is particularly apparent when First Person Plural is read in the context of Hershman's other work, especially Confessions of a Chameleon (1985), which is structurally similar to First Person Plural and takes as its main subject Hershman's history of multiple personalities (whether clinical or assumed).(23) In First Person Plural, as in Confessions of a Chameleon, Hershman's personal appearance varies greatly, depending on whether she is wearing makeup, whether she is dressed up or casually garbed, and how she has done her hair. Video aesthetic and technical capabilities such as the use of both black and white and color taping, split screen, and digital effects are used in the multiplication of her image. For example, one digital effect frames Hershman's head in a small mobile box that gets smaller as it recedes diagonally into the distance, superimposed over a dose-up of a crying baby that fills the screen. Footage also appears to have been shot at different times, as in Binge (1988), in which images of Hershman at drastically different body weights become the vehicle for a meditation on the personal and social aspects of women and eating disorders.(24)

Hershman's use of the multiple selves in First Person Plural suggests that memory can be a matter of perspective -- a radical point given First Person Plural's stake in the effects of actual childhood abuse. "I always told the truth ... for the person I was. But the personas kept fluctuating. They would see things from all sides ... and be afraid from all sides." On the one hand, this might seem to be the raving of a woman completely out of touch with reality On the other hand, this admission allows Hershman to illustrate what is also a central argument of the psychological literature discussed above: that one of the effects of real trauma can be a split self constructed partially through fantasy components. "When I was small, there would be these episodes of batterings and I would go up to my attic and retreat into other personas, into other people that had a voice since I had lost my own." Thus, First Person Plural risks disbelief by acknowledging that "sometimes it was hard to tell what was real" in order to illustrate a causal link between real events and their illogical mental manifestations.

But the multiple selves of First Person Plural do not stand alone, and the tape contains much more than direct address. Unlike diaristic video art that focuses on the individual story, Hershman's piece embeds her personal story in a larger sociopolitical context by bringing in archival footage, mainly of Hitler and the concentration camps, fictional material from the "mythic stories" through winch people define their lives, and abstract images such as that of the crying baby or of a sea that rises electronically to fill the screen.

One of the connective metaphors for this reading of the personal through the social and the mythic is that of approaching footsteps, first heard in the pretitles sequence. "The story of Dracula has always had a special meaning for me," Hershman says in direct address to the camera. As she continues to speak, "It's always been kinda dose to my heart ... the story of a diabolical craving in which you give up your vital fluids through seduction," the image shifts to that of Nina Harker writhing in her bed in F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu.(25) We then begin to hear the sound effect of footsteps and Hershman's account, "When I was small I would feel that he was coming down the hall into my room. ... I mean often I would hear the footsteps," while visually we are given the unforgettable image of Nosferatu's silent approach up the stairs to Nina's room. Hershman finishes with Murnau's Nina superimposed over highly diffused live-action footage of Hershman's Dracula, saying, "And I would be both excited and repelled. He's always been there and I've always felt his presence."

But whose footsteps do we hear? Those of the shadowed father of the dark nights of Hershman's childhood or those of the vampire, Dracula? The point of the sequence, I believe, is that the two are intimately connected, that the popularity and longevity of the Dracula legend may be explained by its covert representation of the simultaneous excitations and repulsions inherent in sexual violation. This confusion between Dracula and the father and between excitation and repulsion is reinforced in a later passage in the tape, after Hershman has revealed mom of the story of her sexual abuse, when she refers again to "footsteps coming down the hall."

The footsteps have still a further resonance. Just before a passage in which Hershman discusses how the abuses Hitler suffered at the hands of his family were similar to the atrocities inflicted in the concentration camps, she alludes to the footsteps of history. Of her Jewish grandparents who fled Austria and Germany during Hitler's rise, Hershman says, They heard the footsteps that were not quite on the ground." This commentary is illustrated by the boxed and slowed image of Hitler's march from Triumph of the Will.(26) This depiction of Hitler's march is followed, in nun, by a boxed and superimposed image of the sea rising in an upward wipe to blot out the background as Hershman discusses European members of her family exterminated during World War II.

In First Person Plural the material cosmos and the realm of fantasy together explain incest and the silencing of testimony about incest as political acts of social domination. "The blood won't clot" says Hershman to evoke the generational march of a "dominant force" that overtakes "the weaker parts" in a connective history of political and domestic violation and abuse.

Part of what makes First Person Plural so effective in relation to Liar Liar and Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story is its liberation from the need to prove past abuse. It is the denial of the abuse, its residual effects in the present, and its historical dimension that are primary in Hershman's piece. Perhaps I am so attracted to First Person Plural because a similar perspective informs my own work in this article in winch I have made it a point to discuss incest films and videos in the context of a documentary corpus that exceeds that particular subject matter. It is in this context, where fantasy is seen as taking part in the multifaceted landscape of traumatic history, that the issue of incest and recovered memory is most effectively argued from a feminist point of view Thus, my departure from the terrain of incest and detour through the catastrophic histories and representations of World War II are a deliberate attempt to shift the focus from what I see as an unproductive debate on whether incest exists to a more productive inquiry into its residual effects on memory and representation in the present. Certainly not all claims of alleged incest are true. But, at the same time, not all false details attest to invented histories. Like the internment of the Japanese and Japanese Americans and like the Final Solution, the existence of childhood incestuous assault is a social and historical reality Yet, in the cases of Holocaust and internment testimonies and representations, as in the case of incest representations, fallible memory details can attest to and repudiate the occurrence of traumatic events.

From this perspective it is possible to revise slightly my critique of movies such as Liar Liar and The Shari Karney Story I stand by my contention that because these films are concerned mainly with determining "beyond a reasonable doubt" the truth of incest in the present and past of their respective heroines, they remain caught within a form of realm representation that limits their exploration of the dimensions of abuse But at the same time I see an aspect of those texts that allows them to entertain, in however limited a fashion, the traumatic paradox. This aspect is the representation of the incest itself The prohibition against speaking or showing incest pushes these television movies into an unconventional representational realm of oblique angles where realist subjectivity is breached. In Liar Liar, for example, the subjectivity of the "incest passage" is disturbed. The older sister testifies that she believes her younger sister's claims because she herself had been sexually abused, and the images of abuse are finally supplied as indicated above. But in fact these images that decide the case are extremely ambivalent in terms of perspective and evocative of a greater range of mental possibilities. The question of whose memory this sequence represents is undecided. At first we hear the older sister's testimony and we see anonymous body parts. But, as the sequence unfolds, the face of the victim is revealed and it is that of the younger sister. Thus, the older sister testifies to events at which she was not present and of which no visual record could exist. The legal decision rests ultimately on the basis of subjective corroboration, that the sisters' stones support each other, and not on the basis of evidence. I should emphasize that this is all to the good as far as I am concerned, for the laceration of conventionality embodied in these incest images allows for the location of memories as impossible but nonetheless true.

The work of these documentaries, and that of certain aspects of the socially conscious television movies, is to reintroduce individual memory to the sphere of rational history in such a way that the terms are distinguished from one another by their relationship to the actual historical event but are still mutually corroborative. Not all testimony is believable to the letter, but the emotional resonance such testimony offers must not as a result be discarded. As Saul Friedlander advocates with regard to traumatic historiography, "The so-called `mythic memory' of the victims" must be integrated "within the overall representation of this past without its becoming an `obstacle' to `rational historiography'" (1992, 53). These documentaries demonstrate, therefore, Friedlander's call for "the simultaneous acceptance of two contradictory moves: the search for ever-closer historical linkages and the avoidance of a naive historical positivism leading to simplistic and self-assured historical narrations and closure" (52-53).

As Michael Frisch has observed, the issue of historical understanding in contemporary society "has come to seem a threat, even the threat to the authority of traditional political culture" (1990, xxii). But historical understanding is secured in large part through memory, and memory is some thing to be snuggled after--but never really possessed--in an effort "rooted in the conflict and interplay among social, political, and cultural interests and values in the present" (Thelan 1989, 1127). To the extent that they are remembered and believed, the memories of Holocaust and U.S. internment camp survivors help secure our toehold against the "ethic cleansing" model of fascism. Likewise, to the extent that they are remembered and believed, women's and men's claim of childhood incest and abuse have the ability to threaten male dominance and the subordination of women and children. But because one response to trauma is fantasy, the grievances of the traumatized cannot be redressed as long as fantasy is held to mean the absence of truth. This is the "traumatic paradox" brilliantly evoked and explored by the documentaries discussed herein. By bringing fantasy constructions having to do with trauma, memory, and the past together with the more commonly accepted documents and details of the historical record, each of these films and tapes offers a challenge to fully realist-based historiographies while nevertheless articulating a committed, alternative history of its own.

(1) Even where documentation abounds, incest may be dismissed as untrue or irrelevant. In Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics: What Happened When Women Sad Incest (1994), Louise Armstrong details numerous custody cases in which young children have been remanded to the custody of their fathers even after divorced mothers and their children's physicians have identified the injuries and scars of paternal sexual abuse. Judges in these cases have overlooked fathers' abusive actions because these judges so abhor the thought that mothers "use" these charges to gain custody

(2) Hochman 1993, B7; Savage 1993, A1; Andrews 1994,13; Boodman 1994, WH15; Hopenwasser 1994, A17, A25; Frankel 1995.

(3) The Networker article cites Goleman 1992, B6; Jaroff and McDowell 1993, 52; and Son Francisco Examiner 1993.

(4) For example, a Detroit Free Press Magazine story (Watters 1995) provides the toll- free number for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation after the author's blurb.

(5) Divided Memories aired April 4 and 11, 1995.

(6) It is acknowledged that the majority of mom survivors remember the incest all along. Of those who do have severe amnesia for childhood abuse, the great majority are able to find outside corroboration in the form of admissions by perpetrators, photographs, or corroboration by siblings.

(7) As am I, Lowenthal 1985 is describing this empiricist model of historiography in order to refute it.

(8) Deborah Lipstadt (1993) is another historian of Holocaust denial who points out how deconstructionist methodology may be at odds with affirmations of the reality of the Holocaust. She discusses how deconstructionist methodology "created an atmosphere of permissiveness toward questioning the meaning of historical events and made it hard fix its proponents to assert that there was anything `off limits' for this skeptical approach" (18).

(9) Thanks are due here to Julia Lesage for suggesting this way of stating my point.

(10) Thanks arc due to an anonymous reviewer for suggesting this phraseology.

(11) Franklin-Lipsker is particularly vulnerable to this attack bemuse she has made it public that she has recovered memories of two other murders perpetrated by her father, but the validity of these memories has not been borne out by investigators.


Andrews, James H. 1994. "Dredging the Past: Recovered Memory or False Memory?" Christian Science Monitor, July 25.

Armstrong, Louise. 1994. Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics: What happened When Women Said Incest. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.

Bass, Ellen, and Laura Davis. 1992. The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. New York: Harper & Row.

Begly, Sharon. 1994. "Some Memories May Be More Imagined Than Real." Detroit Free Press, September 30.

Boodman, Sandra G. 1994. "Advocacy Group for `Aggrieved' Parents Fights Back." Washington Post, April 12.

Butler, Katy. 1995. "Marshaling the Media." Networker, March/April, 36-39, 80.

Butler, Sandra. 1978. Conspiracy of Silence: The Trauma of Incest. New York: Bantam.

Carr, Edward Hallett. 1961. "The Historian and His Facts." In his What Is History? 3-35. New York: Vintage.

Caruth, Cathy. 1992. "Unclaimed Experience: Trauma and the Possibility of History." Yale French Studies 79:181-93.

Cunningham, Donna. n.d. "From Oprah to Eric and Lyle: Incest Discourse in Popular Culture." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California.

Curtius, Mary. 1996. "Man Won't Be Retried in Memory Case." Los Angeles Times, July 3.

Dolan, Maura. 1996. "Credibility under Attack in Repressed Memory Case." Los Angeles Times, February 21.

Felman, Shoshana. 1992. "The Return of the Voice: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah." In Felman and Laub 1992, 204-83.

Felman, Shoshana, and Dori Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. New York: Routledge.

Frankel, Fred. 1995. "Discovering New Memories in Psychotherapy: Childhood Revisited, Fantasy, or Both?" New England Journal of Medicine 333(9):591.

Friedlander, Saul. 1992. "Trauma, Transference and `Working Through' in Writing the History of the Shoah." History and Memory 4:39-59.

Frisch, Michael. 1990. "The Memory of History." In his A Shared Authority: Essays on the Craft and Meaning of Oral and Public History, 15-28. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press.

Goleman, Daniel. 1992. "Childhood Trauma: Memory or Invention." New York Times, July 21.

Goodman, Walter. 1995. "Growth Industry: Helping Recall Sexual Abuse." New York Times, April 4.

Haaken, Janice. 1996. "The Recovery of Memory, Fantasy, and Desire: Feminist Approaches to Sexual Abuse and Psychic Trauma" Signs: Journal of Women in Culture ad Society 21(4):1069-94.

Herman, Judith. 1981. Father-Daughter Incest. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

--. 1992. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic.

Hochman, Joan. 1993. "Recovered Memory's Real Victims" Los Angeles Times, November 15.

Hopenwasser, Karen. 1994. "When It All Comes Back." New York Times, June 8.

Jaroff, Leon, and Jeanne McDowell. 1993. "Lies of the Mind." Time, November 29, 52.

Kluft, Richard, ed. 1984. Childhood Antecedents of Multiple Personality. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.

Laub, Dori. 1992. "Bearing Witness, or the Vicissitudes of Listening." In Felman and Laub 1992, 57-74.

Lesage, Julia. In press. "Women's Fragmented Consciousness in Feminist Experimental Autobiographical Video." In Feminism and Documentary, ed. Diane Waldman and Janet Walker, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

--. 1995. "Lynn Hershman's Electronic Diaries" Paper presented at the Console-ing Passions Television Conference. University of Washington, Seattle, April.

Lewin, Tamar. 1995. "Judge Upsets Murder Conviction Focused on `Repressed' Memory." Los Angeles Times, April 5.

Lipstadt, Deborah. 1993. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: Plume.

Loftus, Elizabeth, and Katherine Ketcham. 1994. The Myth of Repressed Memory. False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse. New York: St. Martin's.

Lowenthal, David. 1985. The Past Is a Foreign Country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Marks, Laura. 1994. "Transnational Objects: Commodities in Postcolonial Displacement" Paper presented at the Visible Evidence II Conference. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, August 19.

McCarthy, Max. 1995. "The Accusation." Detroit Free Press Magazine, January 8, 11-13.

Nichols, Bill. 1994. Blurred Boundaries. Question of Meaning in Contemporary Culture. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Ofshe, Richard, and Ethan Watters. 1994. Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria. New York: Scribner's.

Pendergrast, Mark. 1994. Victims of Memory: Incest Accusations and Shattered Lives. New York: Upper Access.

Renov, Michael. 1994. "Warring Images: Stereotype and American Representations of the Japanese, 1941-1991." In The Japan/America Film Wars. WWII Propaganda and Its Cultural Contexts, ed. Abe Mark Nornes and Fukushima Yukio, 95-118. Chur, Switzerland: Harwood.

Rush, Florence. 1980. The Best Kept Secret. Sexual Abuse of Children. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

San Francisco Examiner 1993. "Buried Memories, Broken Families." San Francisco Examiner, April.

Savage, David. 1993. "Doubt Growing by Experts on Cases of `Recovered Memory.'" Los Angeles Times, November 26.

Schreiber, Flora Rheta. 1973. Sybil. New York: Warner.

Schwarz, Robert, and Stephen Gilligan. 1995. "The Devil Is in the Details: Fact and Fiction in the Recovered Memory Debate." Networker, March/April, 21-23.

Shay, Jonathan. 1994. Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character New York: Atheneum.

Terr, Lenore. 1994. Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories, Lost and Found. New York: Basic.

Thelan, David. 1989. "Memory and American History." Journal of American History 75(4):1117-29.

Vidal-Naquet, Pierre. 1992. Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust, trans. Jeffrey Mehlman. New York: Columbia University Press.

Waites, Elizabeth. 1993. Trauma and Survival: Traumatic and Dissociative in Women. New York: Norton.

Walker, Janet. 1993. Couching Resistance: Women, Film and Psychoanalytic Psychiatry. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

--. In press. "Textual Trauma: Representing the Unrepresentable in Kings Row and Freud." In Endless Night: Cinema and Psychoanalysis, Parallel Histories, ed. Janet Bergstrom. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Walker, Janet, and Diane Waldman. 1990. "John Huston's Freud and Textual Repression: A Psychoanalytic Feminist Reading" In Close Viewings, ed. Peter Lehman, 282-98. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press.

Watters, Ethan. 1993. "Doors of Memory." Mother Jones, January/February, 24-29, 76-77.

White, Hayden. 1992. "Historical Emplotment and the Problem of Truth." In Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the "Final Solution," ed. Saul Friedlander, 37-53. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992.

--. 1996. "The Modernist Event." In The Persistence of History, ed. Vivian Sobchack, 17-38. New York: Routledge.

Williams, Linda. 1993. "Mirrors without Memories -- Truth, History, and the New Documentary." Film Quarterly 46(3):9-21.

I would like to thank Julia Lesage, the Signs editorial group and anonymous reviewers, and Diane Waldman, once again, for their close readings; and insightful comments during the preparation of this article.

(12) Kings Row, Sam Wood, Warner Brothers, 1942.

(13) Freud, John Huston, Universal, 1962.

(14) Sybil, directed by Donald Patrie, produced by Peter Dunne ad Philip Capice, Lorimar, aired November 14-15, 1976, ABC; Something about Amelia directed by Randa Haines, produced by Leonard Goldberg, aired January 9, 1984 ABC; Liar Liar, directed by Jorge Montesi, produced by Phil Savath, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Production, aired in the United States June 22, 1993, CBS; Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story, directed by Bill Corcoran, produced by John Danylkiw, and Jana Faust Krusi, aired September 27, 1993, NBC.

(15) Schreiber is a writer and Journalist specializing in psychology. As author of the book Sybil, Schreiber worked in conjunction with "Sybil's" Cornelias B. Wilber.

(16) Clinical findings have indicated that multiple personality disorder is in many cases the result of childhood sexual abuse (Kluft 1985). Although in Sybil there is a plausible but statistically unwarranted shift to the mother as abuse perpetrator, the film does serve to answer us tamer predecessor The Three Facts of Eve (Nunnally Johnson, Twentieth Century Fox, 1957), in which Joanne Woodward plays the patient, by tracing the etiology of multiple personality to confirmed childhood sexual abuse.

(17) Mildred Pierce, Michael Curtiz, Warner Brothers, 1945.

(18) History and Memory, First Person Plural Who Killed Vincent Chin? and The Ties That Bind were produced independently by their makers. History and Memory and The Ties That Bind are available for rental from Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, Suite 500 C, New York, NY 10013. First Person Plural is available from Lynn Hershman, 1935 Filbert Street, San Francisco, CA 94123. Who Killed Vincent Chin? is available from Filmmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016. The Thin Blue Line was released by Miramax, Shoah was produced by Les Films Aleph and Historia Films with the assistance of the Rench Ministry of Culture; Moving The Mountain was produced by Trudie Styler for Xingu Films, Ltd.

(19) See the reference to the carved bird passage in History and Memory in Marks 1994. On History and Memory, see also Renov 1994 and Nichols 1994.

(20) Night and Fog, Alain Resnais, Como Films and Argos-Films, 1955.

(21) Bad Day at Black Rock, John Sturges, MGM, 1954.

(22) Come See the Paradise, Alan Parker, Tweentieth Century Fox, 1990.

(23) Confessions of a Chameleon is available from the video maker. See n. 18 above.

(24) Binge is available from the video maker. See n. 18 above.

(25) Nosferatu, F. W. Murnau, Prana Film G.M.B.H., 1922.

(26) Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl, a documentary of the 1934 Nazi Party rally produced by the Propaganda Ministry of the National Socialist government of Germany.

In August 1892 an obituary for Irish horse trainer and Journalist Mary Morgan appeared in the Cairo monthly al-Muqtataf (Choice Pieces). "Mistresses of the pen," it began, "have lost a woman considered foremost among them, indeed among masters of the pen and men of business" ("Khasarat," 779).(1) Narrating Morgans' path from childhood to death (a story not lacking in dramatic elements), the obituary-biography declared her obliged to cam her living because her society's religious law gave her father's wealth to his son. But according to Choice Piece's criteria, this story had a happy ending: from her earnings Morgan built a manor, that emblem of Victorian respectability The finale proclaimed a lasting legacy: "With her pen she wrote on the brow of fate, `Women are no less than men'" (780).

This one-page biographical sketch appeared four months later in the first issue (November 1892) of the first women's magazine to appear in Arabic, al-Fatat (The Young Woman).(2) By then it had also appeared in the first issue (September 1892) of al-Hilal (The Crescent), which quickly emerged as a rival to Choice Pieces among leading general-interest (and male-run) magazines. Two years later, when Zaynab Fawwaz (?1850-1914) published an enormous biographical dictionary of famous women's lives, precisely the same narrative appeared minus the opening sentence that marked it as an obituary (1894, 482-83).

Even as she reproduced this biography, Fawwaz prefaced her 1894 Scattered Pearls on the Classes of the Mistresses of Seclusion(3) with a complaint: biographies of prominent men abounded, but no one had recorded, in Arabic, the lives of renowned women (5-6). In fact, Mary Morgan's life history was one of hundreds of short biographies published under the heading "Famous Women" that appeared in the Egyptian press from the 1890s on. These thumbnail sketches drew on a venerable Arabic genre that had emerged only two hundred years after Islam's founding and had given Fawwaz a literary structure within winch to work. As Fawwaz and magazine editors echoed the evaluative entries of the medieval biographical dictionary, they also drew on European and American sources and subject. They produced a practice of exemplary biography that was indigenous and modern, prescriptive and suggestive.

Of women's autobiographies in twentieth-century France, Nancy K. Miller has written that "to justify an unorthodox life by writing about it ... is to reinscribe the original violation, to reviolate masculine turf" (1988, 50; emphasis in the original). While autobiography -- with its ascription, however elusive, of authorship -- may assert a responsibility for this "reviolation" in a particularly blatant and therefore contestational way, biography can trespass the same ground, while treading more lightly by posing an ostensible distance between the writing subject and the biographical subject. In biographical dictionaries and the women's press, editors and writers in Egypt wrote women's biography into the polemics around "the woman question." They produced a body of texts at once defiant and ambivalent, argumentative and conciliatory They instituted a discursive practice that sometimes converged with, sometimes challenged, other discursive productions of "woman."

These texts were produced and first read in a period when social and political institutions were in upheaval: a newly consolidated colonial structure was built on (and accelerating) Egypt's integration into the European capitalist system (and indebtedness to British and French interests); accelerating urbanization and class formation and differentiation were made visible in new patterns of home life and living space, dress and sociability for an elite of the wealthiest merchants and largest landowners, Egyptian and foreign (western Europeans, Greeks, Syrians, Jews from across the Ottoman Empire). A protofeminist consciousness that had emerged among a few female and male intellectuals of the nineteenth-century elite exploded into furious debate among a broader social stratum in the 1890s and on into the twentieth century, for the woman question brought together issues of regeneration and community identity, the place of European cultures, and questions of economic empowerment. As nationalist programs competed on terrains of class difference and communal loyalties, profeminist positions were variously espoused or attacked by male nationalist commentators.

The British government had occupied Egypt in 1882 and installed Lord Cromer as consul general in the wake of popular unrest and an attempted revolt of army officers in alliance with notables against the nominally Ottoman local sovereign. The "awakening" (nahda) -- an incentive movement of intellectual self searching on behalf of a variously defined larger community that had begun early in the century -- took on nationalist and anti-imperialist inflections. A popular press had emerged in the 1870s, encapsulating a range of intellectual and political agendas and working in tandem, in the first decade of the twentieth century, with the beginnings of organized party political activity By this decade, earlier "stirrings of national self-consciousness ... behind them ... something older and stronger, the wish of long-established societies to continue their lives without interruption," had become "an articulate idea animating political movements" (Hourani 1991, 309). Nationalist and anti-imperialist sentiment reached new activist heights in 1919, in popular resistance to the British refusal to meet with an Egyptian nationalist delegation (the Wafd, which developed thereafter into a political party). Women of all classes were active and visible in this resistance, which a few upper-class women felt gave them a firm mandate to demand participation in Wafd policy making. In 1922, Egypt obtained a nominal independence from Great Britain, and the next year this group of women founded al-Ittihad al-nisa'i al-misri, the Egyptian Feminist Union. Although its origin was aristocratic, the Egyptian Feminist Union developed a following among women of a new elite that formed the audience for women's magazines.(4)

These were some of the events.(5) Shaping them was an activist debate on the meanings, interrelations, and effects of modernity, nationalism, and internal ethnic (Egyptian vs. immigrant Levantine) and religious (Muslim vs. Christian) difference. There were overlaps within these categories. Most Egyptians were and arc Muslims, but the sizable Coptic Christian population had vocal presences in the media and among the nationalist leadership Although immigrants from the Ottoman Syrian provinces (and from Greece) were mostly Christian, there were Muslims among them, notable examples being Zaynab Fawwaz and Rashid Rida. A further division was that between (the few) Shi'i Muslim immigrants (like Fawwaz) and Sunni Muslims, both immigrant (like Rida) and native to Egypt. Egyptian nationalism was split along several axes, too. There was the question of priorities -- to rid Egypt of the occupiers before all else or to privilege a gradual strengthening of social and political structures from within first, looking to "the West" for guidance. Them was the question of moral authority, too. In a society where religious affiliation was a primary marker of identity officially and legally (and where church hierarchies and an official Islamic establishment held sway over social practice and legal standing), "secularism" meant dunking in nation based terms that would override religious identity as the basis of community but could not propose eradicating religion entirely from the public arena. Rather, what role should religion(s) play?

Muslim nationalists in Egypt were grouped loosely into two camps, "modernist" and "organicist." The division corresponded to divergent perspectives on the position of religion -- overwhelmingly, of Islam -- in the formation of the state and the construction of a unifying national identity.(6) Islamic modernists, emerging late in the nineteenth century, declared their intent to separate the Prophet Muhammad's received message and exemplary practice in the earliest Muslim community from later layers of doctrine and practice accumulated as Islam spread geographically and ramified in its political structures and intellectual elaborations. For the second group, the organicists, Islam was "an inherited, balanced system of faith and action" that depended both on the Qur'an and on "the verifying authority of community consensus" through time (Stowasser 1994, 6).(7) Organicists were uncomfortable with the modernists' willingness to abandon practices on the basis that they were both inessential to Islamic practice and unsuitable to the demands of modern life.

If organicists tended to demand the expulsion of Britain before all else, the correlation between political demands and ideologies was not always perfect; nor was Islam -- in its many definitions -- the sole factor in determining Egyptian nationalist agendas. This echoes through the biographical sketches that form the heart of my project, for religion -- Islam, various kinds of Christianity, Judaism -- invariably appears as one of many formative factors in the life histories of individuals and nations. Predominantly, it is the modernist stance that appears in biographies of Muslim women written and published by Muslims and Christians, Egyptians and Syrians, Sunnis and Shi'is: Islam is flexible on social practice and gender and held from its beginnings the possibility for women to make their own lives. Gender practices sanctioned by tradition were not immutable for the devout Muslim or Christian woman, suggested these texts.(8) (Indeed, many of the customs and rituals that local reformist and the representatives of imperialism railed against were practiced by both Muslim and Christian families in Egypt, especially in rural areas, suggesting that they were not based in religion.) Egyptian Muslim modernists and Coptic Christian nationalists, as well as Muslim and Christian reformists from Ottoman Syria, had common concerns, if not identical ones, that surfaced in women's biography. And for all, the question of how to situate "the West" within a practice both reformist and nationalist was a difficult one. As Pierre Cachia has noted, "It is worth recalling that `Westernization' was a direction taken by local elites even before they had to bend to lasting foreign rule; that the driving force behind it was never submission but the desire for emulation as the surest means of self-assertion; that `the West' adopted as an example, viewed as monolithic and often idealized, was an abstraction tinged by Arab perceptions of their needs and aspirations" (1990, 30). "West" and "East" (al-gharb and al-sharq) were both abstractions, frequently invoked ones; after Japan's 1905 victory over Russia, and as Egyptian nationalisms became more sharply defined, the layers of meaning these terms contained multiplied. In these biographies, the varying meanings of these politically loaded abstractions surface to create a point of ambivalence: al-gharb as both the focal point of admiration and emulation and the source of social disintegration and decay; al-gharb as threat and as promise.

Nira Yuval Davis and Floya Anthias have empasized the "central dimensions of the roles of women [as] constituted around the relationships of collectivities to the state" (1989a, 1; see also Moghadam 1994, 2). Debates in Egypt, as in so many other emerging postcolonial states, over the appropriate boundaries for a national/ist collectivity constructed iconographies of the ideal woman as crucial to nationalist grouping;? contesting visions of the emerging nation-state.(9) The postclassical sedimentations that Islamic modernists saw as skewing Islamic practice were symbolized centrally in the positioning of women, as were the debates over secularism as a basis for nationhood and social practice. Modernists argued that the seclusion and veiling of women, and their control through polygyny and other practices, were institutions that kept Muslim societies "backward" (as some modernists, using "the West" as a yardstick, claimed). Their discourse furnished an ideological basis for a modernist nationalism that looked to Europe even as it formulated an anti-imperialist agenda. Yet Muslim modernist nationalists, as well as Coptic Christian nationalists, had to act within a symbolic field of cultural and political assertion that constructed a range of "authentic" pasts -- Muslim, Arab, Egyptian. In this they competed with organicists such as Mustafa Kamil, who, attacking modernity as Western and therefore suspect, saw the legal, social, and biological inequality of women as part of "the stable structures of past tradition" that must underwrite any political formation (Stowasser 1994, 6; more generally, Kandiyoti 1994, 378-79).

Thus, if Islamic modernists and traditionalists each sought to control the shape of a twentieth-century Islam, the nationalist inflection on Islamic modernism demanded a program that would subsume or at least incorporate religious boundaries into a secular nationalist identity, thereby making possible on the practical level an alliance with Egypt's Copts. Religion could shape the national heritage without governing the state, they believed. Emphasizing Islam's malleability allowed it to become a shared heritage that need not define the nation, as both Christian and Muslim writers proposed. Yet the implications of this convenient slippage were ambiguous, particularly for women. And neither the Patriarchate nor al-Azhar contemplated relinquishing the control they had over the organization of family life among their adherents.

In these snuggles an indigenous definition of "modernity" was at stake. Its contours took shape around the woman question. Deniz Kandiyoti (1991a, 1991b, 1994) and Walby (1990) have linked modernity to disturbances within preexisting modes of male dominance. I concur with Kandiyoti and Yuval-Davis and Anthias (1989b), in the Mediterranean context (and many other scholars working in other regional and national contexts), in emphasizing the fluidity of public/private boundaries and regarding "the private" as subject to organization by the state.(10) These are warnings against conceptualizing Mediterranean societies as moving cleanly from private to public patriarchies; at a time of social transformation, of an erosion in the classic patriarchy that had tended to structure nonnomadic, Muslim Middle Eastern and North African societies (Kandiyoti 1991b, 31). Yet I do find the concept of "public patriarchy" useful in articulating the ways in winch gender was pivotal to nationalist definitions of modernity that sought to yoke women's "awakening" instrumentally to the nations progress from "backwardness." I theorize the mixed messages of the "Famous Women" biographies as linked to an emerging public patriarchy, defined by Kandiyoti (citing Walby) as women's instrumental subordination within, rather than exclusion from, a public arena (1994, 377). Equally, though, I argue that women could read off biography some kinds of resistance to this modern patriarchy, for these constructions of lived experience implied a difficult but not impossible reimagination of the self. Yet these texts also suggest that women could not finally escape the dominant nationalist program for social organization: the nuclear family as the primary unit of the nation (attenuating more extended kin-based identities) and as that which would "produce a healthier nation" (Kandiyoti 1991a, 9).

Biography articulated the contradictory faces of modernist (liberal) nationalist -- and feminist -- discourses. Redefining the "National[ist] Family"(11) as the productive unit of the nation and reorienting the loyalties of subnational collectivities were moves sufficiently radical to necessitate the assertion that the modernist project (and, in its nationalist formulation, its "secularist" leanings) was culturally authentic (ask) in its foundations and outcomes. Moreover, to claim the territory of nationalist hegemony from the organicist nationalists required this move, as Kandiyoti and others have observed. This left women in a double bind. The dominant textual move in many biographies is one of attempted reconciliation, a message that the exhortation to a specifically female modernity is
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Title Annotation:subpoena addressed to American United for Separation of Church and State
Author:Lynn, Barry
Publication:Church & State
Date:Sep 1, 1997
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