Wendy Matsumura

Dear Jordan,

Thank you for your observations. I totally agree with you that the visual is such an important resource for communicating in an instant, something that may take pages to explain in narrative form. One of the things that people who use visual medium a lot (art historians, for example) talk about, however, is the way that conventional historians are not very adept at recognizing the power dynamics embedded in a photograph - who is taking the photo, who has the power to crop, etc.

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Hi Emily,

Thank you for your post, and I'm sorry about your unemployment. I don't know if you went through this, but my mother was laid off during the pandemic, and what is important to note is both her anxiety and stress, as well as how that reverberated to her relationships with others (friends who were also unemployed, and her daughter (me!) who was tasked with navigating a very slow and complicated unemployment system). it was not just the time, but the stress of that too. multiply this by the millions of others who shared the same fate, it seems important to take these experiences into account in any narration of the pandemic. I also appreciate the distinction you make between deliberate erasure and a refusal to represent out of respect for someone who does not have the ability to express consent.

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Hi Kim,

Thank you for centering the concept of critical fabulation in your piece. It is trying to get at the exact balance of needing to address the erasure of certain people and communities as protagonists of histories, but being aware that these too can get used and potentially weaponized for political agendas that may be antithetical to their interests. It is also about addressing the full range of experiences and emotions that might not seem useful to some when crafting theories about historical transformation.

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Wendy Matsumura

Wendy Matsumura

Wendy Matsumura is associate professor of Japanese history at UC San Diego.