You are on page 1of 20

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: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4150889 . 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 . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. 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 . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=ifer. . 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 support@jstor.org.

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

http://www.jstor.org

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

The
An

Story

of

My

Story:

of Anthropology Violence, and Dispossession, Diaspora

AlisseWaterston
JohnJay Collegeof Criminal Justice

Abstract
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]

43

The Storyof MyStory:AnAnthropology Violence,Dispossession,and Diaspora of

leadsto consciousness, recollection the possibility meanto of Memory a perception relation of betweenoneselfand ingwhichalwaysincludes the world. - JaneLazarre, the Beyond Whiteness Whiteness of beinga nightmare-butit maybe the nightJoyceis rightabouthistory in and marefromwhichno one canawaken. Peoplearetrapped history in them. historyis trapped - JamesBaldwin, Son Notesof a Native

Thatstoryis a personal, intimate narstoryliesat the heartof thisessay.' have manwhosetravels the rativeof an old Jewish through 20th century In I been coloredby tragedy sorrow. this anthropological and project, aim to the connections between manandthe larger the that examine multiple history in frameshis personal eventsreflected his In experience. whatwaysare larger Howhas history affected man,and in turn,othersaroundhim? the story? of Thispaper followsin anthropology's tradition writing individual's an long life historymethod(Crapanzano and the 1980, Langness biography, classic Frank1981, Mintz1974 (1960),Shostak1981, Watson and Watson-Franke
1985). Nearlyfortyyearsago, Langnessnoted that "...much of what any cultur-

al anthropologist collectsin the field and on whichhe baseshis professional in is quotedin Frank monographs biographical character" (1954:vi, 1979:73). for one Thisworkbuildson thatanthropological tradition, I am documenting in spaceandtime (Frank man'slife and locating experience his 1979:73; 76). I sinceI am the old man'sdaughter.will this However, project goesfurther, a boy in Jedwabne, man in recountmy father'sstory (as Poland,a young and and Havana, an old man in SanJuan), take us full circlein my ownstoof withmyfatherto the settings his life.Because the intimate of riesof return and connectionbetweenthe anthropologist her subject,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, (2002:423). whichmakesmea mostintimate native bymyfatherwho is also my"subject," I do not have insideraccessto all aspectsof his cultural observer. Evenso, life occurred beforemytime, milieu,sinceso muchof myfather's experience
and in places I did not know: his boyhood in Polandor life as a young man in Cuba. It might be reasonable to think that in some ways, I am as much a strangerto his cultural milieu as I would be to any unfamiliarfieldsite.
44

ALISSE WATERSTON

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

of The Storyof MyStory:An Anthropology Violence, Dispossession,and Diaspora

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

ALISSE WATERSTON

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

An and TheStory My of Story: Anthropology Violence, of Dispossession, Diaspora

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

WATERSTON ALISSE

children and bad.Sothe Jewish boysandthe Jewish together, the Polish children together. The teachersin the publicschools were teachingthe people the songs against the Jews. The teachers were all anti-Semitic.They childto announced that for Passover, Jews]hadto killa Christian [the makethe matzoh! Andlookat the systemamongthe Jewswhen you killa chickenor killa meat,you'renot supposedto drinkblood!Youhaveto-in salt havethe meatfor aboutan houror two to takeout the blood,because you'renot allowed[to drinkblood]even froman animal!Andlook at when he killsan animal,his how when the shochet[Kosher butcher], suffer! so the animalwouldn't knifehasto be likea surgeon's knife,

Retrospectives
for After firstWorld Riva the War, wantedout of Poland herchildren, especially the boys.Shewouldnot see her sons fall for the Polisharmyand she figto had out. ureda passage Theyearwas 1924 andAmerica closedits borders to So sent hersecondborn,Motol, Cuba. peoplelikeher.3 Riva Yosef ThentherewasChaim, InCuba, Motol becameManolo. Yankel, Fagel, who andSarah became and,as myfathersays,"Sarah Jos6, Jaime,Fela, Jacobo, or as Menachim Mendel Mendelee, is Sarah." for myfather,he startedout As becameMiquelito. in the Yiddish In Mendelee diminutive. Cuba, thatfirstpiece, aboutmyfather,naming Several yearsago, I beganwriting A that an Towards Ethnography Identity. retrospective, story Ruth: of Following in SanJuan: an introduces old man It is noontime, and,at eighty-two yearsold, myfatherwalksfromhis store at at the sametable,at the same restaurant, the same in Viejo Juanto sit San time,forthe same lunchhe has been eatingoverthe pastthirty-five years.La and fanshanging fromvaultedceilings tables has Mallorquina ancientwooden a in it's withplacemats covered Rico, fact boasting the oldestrestaurant Puerto who still botherto wanderthe cobblestones tourists to mostappealing those as of OldSanJuan.Don Miguel, my fatheris knownaroundtown, is a wellwithdisdain the tourist for tradeanda talentfor knowing merchant respected customers. to justwhatmerchandise orderfor his PuertoRican
Myfather's store is just a half block from the restaurant,so it's a convenient place to take lunch. It'sclose and the waiters knowwhat he wants-serve him quickly,and bringa hot pocillo when the old man waves his hand. I know
49

The Storyof MyStory:AnAnthropology Violence,Dispossession,and Diaspora of

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

ALISSE WATERSTON

The Wasersteins, jedwabne, Poland, ca. 1925. Mendelstanding second from the right, with arm on father'sshoulder.

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

of The Storyof MyStory:An Anthropology Violence,Dispossession,and Diaspora

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

52

ALISSE WATERSTON

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

53

of Story: Anthropology Violence, An of TheStory My and Dispossession, Diaspora

I ered" toward worldthe anthropology,knewit wouldbe myguide"outwards of events" ly shape (Hoffman 2004:16). Myfatheris now ninety-one yearsold. In the past severalyears,I have returned the settingsof his life: First Cubawith him in the year2000; to to then one yearlater, with myhusband daughter Poland, country and to a that is a graveyard Jews.InCuba, foundmanymementos his life:the of we of truly who "I ninetyyearold womanin Manguito exclaimed, didn'tdancewithyou, I dancedwithyourbrother the also who Jos6!"; in Manguito, old farmer called out "Miguelito!" him remembering fromsome sixtyyearsago;a fadedpainted sign, "Waserstein Co.,El Figurin,"-which my UncleJacobo's was & old storefront Havana thereafterfortyyears;mygrandfather's in the in still grave In we Jewishcemetery. Jedwabne, foundno relics.

The Storyof MyStory


I that "...Asa Jewit is my dutyto tell Every yearat Passover, am reminded my child not only my story,but also the storyof my story,whichis also my Withso manypartsand layersto the story,whichaspectdo I child'sstory." decideto tell? I turn to anthropology guidance,a disciplinethat has taughtme to for examinethe multipleconnectionsbetweenthe personand the history.If was It nothingelse, the 20th century the epochof upheaval. sawthe conseof and quencesof centuries violentcontactbetweennation-states, the subseeffectson social groupswithinthose territories. "thedarkside of It's quent Alexander Laban Hinton tells us. Inthe twentiethcentury alone, modernity," million [people] were annihilated...(thelong list of victim groups sixty Rwandan Bosnians, Tutsis,Hereros, Armenians, Jews,Cambodians, includes) Ukrainian Burundi the Acheof Paraguay, Hutus, peasants, Gypsies, Bengalis, Guatemalan and of Mayans, the Ogoni Nigeria" (2002:1). Hintongoes on. Annihilation occurs"oftenafter nation-states embark upon lethal projectsof social engineeringintent upon eliminatingcertain undesirableand 'contaminating' elements of the population." And the of is "manufacturing difference" a critical aspectof these socialengineering this is a key"mechanism" structural of violence, projects" Perhaps (2002:13). at the centerof the "machinery" politicaleconomy:socialforcesbecome of
embodied as individual experience in the denigration of their difference. Prevailing stereotypes that serve to exclude, marginalize and disvalue a group (and the individuals who fit into the category) constitute a collective
54

ALISSE WATERSTON

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

The Storyof MyStory:An Anthropology Violence, Dispossession,and Diaspora of

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

ALISSE WATERSTON

Bringingthe Past into the Present


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

An of and TheStory My of Story: Anthropology Violence, Dispossession, Diaspora

father'sworn-outprayerbook. Louisereadsfrom the sectiontitled Ethical Teachings: teachesthe unityof the humanrace.'Justice, Judaism justice,shaltthou To twice? teachus thatwe must pursue.' is the wordjusticewritten Why at it or practice justice alltimes,whether be forourprofit forourloss,and 'Love all alike.Judaism towards men,Jewand non-Jew commands: thy of all-embracing to as and this love neighbor thyself,' declares command be the fundamental of principle the Jewish religion (n/d:319320). I realize,though,the storyhas not taken us to justice.Despitethe teachand can interpretation, narrative take us towards ings,I knowthat memory, the hatred as easilyas love,towards destruction, ethnocentrism, worstof just and war.Weare at the dawn of a new centurythat seemsto nationalism in as Peopleare afraid promise muchviolenceas occurred the 20th century. of annihilation desire protection. Insteadof providing our and protection, worldleaders manipulating are theseemotions for deeplyfelt fears,distorting otherends.Atthis time, I fearto imagine future. the Once again I returnto anthropology and to Scheper-Hughes's advice, with the sufferingof individuals...embrace pain...confront that "Grapple structural violence...[bean] engaged[notsilent]witness.Cometo yoursensI es!"(2002:351). an anthropologist,willfollowthe coursemyfather's As story has inspired. will continueto tell my story,and the storyof my story.I will I continue serveas moral to witness havehopeforunderstanding, and empathy, of resolution structural violence, and, knowing justice.I willworkfor peaceful I am not alone in seekingsuchgoals,trustthat I maykeepto mysenses.

ENDNOTES 11 to would liketo expressmy deepest appreciation friends,familyand colleagueswho proto videdvaluableguidanceand insightin the developmentof this essay.I am verygrateful for and Barbara Rylko-Bauer her usefulcomments,her perceptiveness, herencouragement, the and thankherfororganizing AAA panelthat helpedpushmyproject along. I extendspecial thanksto the anonymousreviewers Anthropological for to Horowitz, Quarterly, Howard Louise PaulFarmer, DeeadraBrown, and to my father,Michael Waterston. Waterston, as the method,see Behar1996; Reed-Danahay 20On rise of autoethnography ethnographic 2003. 1997; Ellisand Bochner 2003; Tedlock that set the annualquotato 2 3TheImmigration of May26, 1924 containeda provision Act of residentin the U.S.in 1890. nationality percentof the numberof immigrants a particular InJuly,1924 when President the Act proclaimed Immigration into law,the Calvin Coolidge 58

ALISSE WATERSTON

from Polandwas 5, 982 people (Immigration Naturalization and quotafor new immigrants Service). 4ElImperioappearsas an elegant shop in two novels by Puerto Ricannovelists:Rosario Ferr6's Houseon the Lagoon, TinaCasanova's The and Sambir6n.

REFERENCES of Lila.1993. Writing Women's Worlds: BedouinStories.Berkeley:University Abu-Lughod, California Press. V. de From Michael and Kimberly Mays Perez.2003. "Rethinking A. Observation: Angrosino, and Interpreting Method to Context."In Collecting QualitativeMaterials,edited by Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, 107-175. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications. The San 1987. Borderlands/La Frontera: NewMestiza. Francisco: AuntLute. Anzaldta,Gloria. Baldwin, James.1984 (1955).Notesof a NativeSon. Boston:BeaconPress. Observer: that Heart.Boston: Behar,Ruth.1996. TheVulnerable Anthropology BreaksYour BeaconPress.
. 1993. Translated Woman:Crossingthe Border with Esperanza. Boston: Beacon

Press. 1992. An Invitationto Reflective Bourdieu,Pierreand LoicWacquant. Sociology. Chicago: of Press. University Chicago the fromAuschwitz, June Philippe.2002. "Missing Holocaust.MyFather's Escape Bourgois, 1944." Paperpresentedat the 101st AnnualMeetingof the American Anthropological NewOrleans,Louisiana. Association, in of Press. Jonathan.1996. Thinking Jewish.Chicago: Boyarin, University Chicago
. 1992. Storm from Paradise. The Politics of Jewish Memory. Minneapolis:

of Press. University Minnesota Tina.1998. Sambir6n. HatoRey:Publicaciones Editores. Casanova, Puertorriquefias of Vincent.1980. Tuhami: Portrait a Moroccan. University Chicago Crapanzano, of Chicago: Press. Robert.1994. "TheBoundaries the Self and the Unhealthy of Other:Reflections Crawford, on Health,Culture, AIDS." and SocialScience and Medicine 38(10):1347-1365. Personal Narrative, Ellis, Carolyn and Arthur P. Bochner. 2003. "Autoethnography, In and Researcher Subject." Collecting Interpreting as Qualitative Materials, Reflexivity: S. 199-258.ThousandOaks,CA: edited by NormanK.Denzinand Yvonna Lincoln, Sage Publications. Paul. 1996. "OnSuffering and Structural Violence:A Viewfrom Below." Daedalus Farmer, 125(1):261-283.
. 2003. Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the

of Poor.Berkeley: Press. University California 1995. TheHouseon the Lagoon.NewYork: Strausand Giroux. Rosario. Farrar, Ferre's, a A of Frank, Gelya.1979. "Finding CommonDenominator: Phenomenological Critique Life Method." Ethos7(1)Spring:68-94. History Seduction: Feminism Psychoanalysis. and Ithaca:Cornell Jane. 1982. TheDaughter's Gallop, University Press.

59

of Story: Anthropology Violence, An of TheStory My and Dispossession, Diaspora

and Anti-Semitism the HiddenLanguage the Gilman,Sander.1986. JewishSelf-Hatred: of Cornell Press. Jews.Ithaca: University Gramsci,Antonio.1971. Selections from the PrisonNotebooks.New York:International Publishers. The in Poland. Gross, T.2001. Neighbors: Destruction theJewishCommunity Jedwabne, Jan of Princeton: Princeton Press. University The Laban(ed.)2002. Annihilating Hinton,Alexander Difference. Anthropology Genocide. of of Press. Berkeley: University California Eva. and SuchKnowledge: Hoffman, 2004.After Memory, History, the Legacy theHolocaust. of NewYork: PublicAffairs. and Naturalization Service.2002. 35. Immigration of May26, 1924 (43 Act Immigration Statutes-at-Large www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/aboutins/statistics/legishisto/470.htm. 153). 31, (January 2003). A L.L. Paperpresentedto SectionH, Langness, 1964. "Biography: CommonDenominator." American of Association the Advancement Science,Montreal, for December. An and GelyaFrank.1981. Lives: Anthropological to Approach Biography. Langness,L.L., Chandler Sharp. and Novato,CA: Press. Durham: DukeUniversity Lazarre, Jane.1996. Beyondthe Whiteness Whiteness. of in America. Alan.2001. Popular Culture theShaping Holocaust and Seattle: Mintz, Memory of Press. of University Washington A in Rican History. NewYork: W.W. Mintz, SidneyW.1974 (1960).Worker the Cane: Puerto Life Norton& Company. ReedDanahay, Deborah.1997.Auto/ethnography: the Rewriting Self and the Social.Oxford: Berg. . 2002. "TurningPoints and Textual Strategiesin Ethnographic Writing." Studiesin Education Qualitative 15(4):421-425. 2002. "Introduction "Bringing Past into the Present:Family to the Barbara. Rylko-Bauer, Narratives Holocaustand Exile."Presentedat the 101st Annual Meetingof the of American New Orleans, Louisiana. Association, Anthropological Sabbath and Festival Book.n/d. The Rabbinical of Prayer Assembly America. The Said, EdwardW. 1995. The Politics of Dispossession. Struggle PalestinianSelffor New Determination. York: Vintage. SocialScienceand Nancy.1996. "SmallWarsand InvisibleGenocides." Scheper-Hughes, Medicine 43(5):889-900. . 2002. "Coming our Senses:Anthropology Genocide." Annihilating and to In The edited by Alexander LabanHinton,348-381. Difference. Anthropology Genocide, of of Press. University California Berkeley: Nancy and Philippe Bourgois.2004. "Introduction: Scheper-Hughes, MakingSense of in and Violence." Violence War Peace.AnAnthology, edited by NancyScheper-Hughes In and PhilippeBourgois, 1-31. Malden,MA: Blackwell Publishing. Moments Being,11-24. New In Schulkind, Jeanne. 1985. "Introduction." Virginia Woolf, of A York: Harvest Inc. Book,Harcourt, 1981. Nisa: TheLifeand Words a KungWoman. Harvard Shostak,Marjorie. of Cambridge: Press. University In 2003. "Ethnography Ethnographic and Tedlock,Barbara. Representation." Strategies of QualitativeInquiry,edited by Norman K. Denzin and YvonnaS. Lincoln,165-213. Thousand Oaks,CA: Sage Publications. 60

ALISSE WATERSTON

in Alisse.1993 (1997).Street Addicts the PoliticalEconomy. Waterston, Philadelphia: Temple Press. University
. 1999. Love, Sorrow and Rage: Destitute Women in a Manhattan Residence.

Press. Philadelphia: TempleUniversity n.d. Waterston, Alisse, and BarbaraRylko-Bauer. "Outof the Shadowsof Historyand in In of PersonalFamilyNarratives Ethnographies Rediscovery." TheShadow Memory: and the Borders betweenEthnography Life,edited Sideof FieldWork: Theorizing Blurred and forthcoming. by AthenaMcLean AnnetteLeibing, An Watson-Franke. 1985. Interpreting Histories: Lawrence and Maria-Barbara C. Watson, Life Anthropological Inquiry.New Brunswick, Rutgers NJ: University Press.

61