Source: (2004) Biography. 27(1): 163-202.

The production of biographical narrative, life history, oral history, and testimony in the aftermath of ethnocidal, genocidal, colonial, and postcolonial violence occurs within specific structural conditions, cognitive constraints, and institutional norms. As Hayden White has taught us, biography emerges as a narrative media within state structures, and within the cultural requirement for jural and political subjects. Historical inquiry must attend to the conditions under which such narratives arise-the political agency that such narrations refract, replicate, and authorize-and yet also account for the wide-ranging circuits that filter and consume the biographical artifact. As I shall briefly discuss below in reference to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), this tension between the scene of testimony production and the sites of narrative screening and consumption can encompass not only a single testimony, but also an entire archive. (excerpt).