Despite our society’s increasing reliance on electronic documentation, to-date archives remain, largely, material repositories of cultural memory. It is an accepted historical problematic, however, that culture is often resistant to material preservation. There exists an undeniable and profound tension between scholarly efforts to reconstruct history and interpret cultural traditions and the fragmentary, and often limited, material record. That is to say, scholarship is shaped by a sinuous negotiation around the historical silences that encompass all of material culture.
Historical silences, however, can at times be marginalized (or at best excluded) by a sensitive configuration of material evidence with oral history. Excluding Archival Silences: Oral History and Historical Absence uses a historically and geographically specific example of oral history to engage in a more generalist discussion of how oral reflection, especially when shaped by material evidences, can be an especially effective tool for preserving the dynamics of culture that often remain undocumented.