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Working the PastNarrative and Institutional Memory$
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Charlotte Linde

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140286

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140286.001.0001

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Noisy Silences

Noisy Silences

Stories Not Told

(p.196) 9 Noisy Silences
Working the Past

Charlotte Linde

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses silences and absences within an institution. Silences include official and unofficial silences, counter-stories, erasures, and story-telling rights. An analysis is provided of how to find a silence: by comparison of accounts, by noting unofficial stories and counter-stories, by examining who speaks for the institution and who does not, by noting who is not present in the stories, by comparison to the stories predictable in given circumstances, and by investigation of the external records. The chapter examines a major silence within MidWest Insurance: official stories do not describe an anti-discrimination lawsuit which changed the company's hiring policies. A silence of interpretation is also examined: absence of discussion of the fact that the all the presidents of the company have been chosen from a small number of families. The chapter argues that silences are contextual: what can not be spoken in public may be freely discussed in private.

Keywords:   silence, absence, narrative silence, counter-story, counter-history, erasure, storytelling rights, public and private discourse

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