How I Met My Great-Grandfather: Archives and the Writing of History
- Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
- Duke University Press
- Volume 38, Number 1, May 2018
- pp. 6-20
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Seikaly’s article reflects on a decade of research, contingent, accidental, and unconsciously autobiographical, to explore archival practices and the writing of history. She recounts her experience of stumbling across family papers that carried the story of Naim Cotran as a “man of capital.” She details Naim’s consumerism, his financial investments and property, and his land dispute with his brother, and then traces his experience of dispossession after the Nakba as a refugee in Lebanon. What happened to a man of capital who survived the catastrophe of 1948? What allows an archive to survive that event? What stories does it record and what does it render invisible?