Silence regarding the experiences of political violence formed a point of connection between diverse trajectories of emerging states across the world in the twentieth century. While the orthodoxies of transitional justice have made silence something to be broken by speech in the present, it is necessary to consider histories of such silences, and how they were formed in the past and constituted ongoing and evolving constraints in different social and political contexts. Faced with an immense range of disciplinary and cultural understandings of the meaning and nature of silence, this introduction considers the idea of “regimes of silence” as a way of talking about the history of such absences; instead of focussing on what is not said, we can examine the limits, words and dynamics of power that restrict speech, and we can use these limits to consider what silence means and how it functions in different situations, without assuming that we know exactly the content of the unspoken. Taking the limits, rather than the silence itself, as a premise, three broad areas of debate emerge across the chapters in this volume: the divergent dynamics of silence and power, the paradoxical relationships of silence and speech, and the particular problems of silences in and of history and history writing.