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Doing Memory

Teaching as a Discursive Node

Alexandra Binnenkade

This article outlines the “discursive node” as an approach to a cultural analysis of how memory is being done in history classrooms. Teaching is a practice embodied in the interactions between teachers and their audiences, between texts, imagery and institutional formations, and between material and immaterial participants in an activity that entails not only knowledge but also emotions, experience and values (Henry Giroux). Discursive nodes are useful metaphors that enable research of a phenomenon that is ontologically and empirically fluxional, heterogeneous, unstable, situative and fuzzy—memory.

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Teresa Oteíza, Rodrigo Henríquez, and Claudio Pinuer

The purpose of this article is to examine history classroom interactions in Chilean secondary schools in relation to the transmission of historical memories of human rights violations committed by Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. Corpora of this research are comprised of history lessons filmed in the two types of public schools that coexist in the Chilean educational system, namely government subsidized and partially subsidized schools. This research draws on linguistics resources framed by the sociosemiotic perspective of systemic functional linguistics. We incorporate into this theoretical framework the notions of semantic gravity and semantic density from legitimation code theory in order to understand the variations of levels of specialization and abstraction that build cumulative knowledge and ideological cosmologies when one is dealing with a sensitive and complex aspect of Chilean society.

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Felicitas Macgilchrist, Barbara Christophe, and Alexandra Binnenkade

This special issue of the Journal of Educational Media, Memory and Society explores memory practices and history education. The first point of departure for the texts collated here is that memory (whichever concept we use from the current range including collective memory, cultural memory, social memory, connected memory, prosthetic memory, multidirectional memory, travelling memory and entangled memory) is a site of political contestation, subject formation, power struggle, knowledge production, and community-building. Our second point of departure is that history education is a site where teachers and pupils as members of distinct generations engage with textbooks and other materials as specific forms of memory texts that guide what should be passed on to the younger generation. As editors, we solicited papers that investigate how what counts as “worth remembering” in a given context is reproduced, negotiated and/or interrupted in classrooms and other educational practices. This introduction aims to sketch the overarching understanding of memory practices which guide the contributions, to point to the purchase of attending explicitly to the “doing” of memory, to highlight the difference between our approach to history education and approaches focusing on historical thinking, and to introduce the six articles.

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Memory Practices in History Education about the 1947 British India Partition

Opportunities and Challenges to Breaching Hegemonic Remembering

Meenakshi Chhabra

This article is an epistemological reflection on memory practices in the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of collective memories of a historical event involving collective violence and conflict in formal and informal spaces of education. It focuses on the 1947 British India Partition of Punjab. The article engages with multiple memory practices of Partition carried out through personal narrative, interactions between Indian and Pakistani secondary school pupils, history textbook contents, and their enactment in the classroom by teachers. It sheds light on the complex dynamic between collective memory and history education about events of violent conflict, and explores opportunities for and challenges to intercepting hegemonic remembering of a violent past.

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Memory Practices in the Classroom

On Reproducing, Destabilizing and Interrupting Majority Memories

Johanna Ahlrichs, Katharina Baier, Barbara Christophe, Felicitas Macgilchrist, Patrick Mielke, and Roman Richtera

This article draws on memory studies and media studies to explore how memory practices unfold in schools today. It explores history education as a media- saturated cultural site in which particular social orderings and categorizations emerge as commonsensical and others are contested. Describing vignettes from ethnographic fieldwork in German secondary schools, this article identifies different memory practices as a nexus of pupils, teachers, blackboards, pens, textbooks, and online videos that enacts what counts as worth remembering today: reproduction; destabilization without explicit contestation; and interruption. Exploring mediated memory practices thus highlights an array of (often unintended) ways of making the past present.

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Transmitting Memory Between and Beyond Generations

The Rotterdam Bombardment in Local Memory Culture and Education from 1980 to 2015

Susan Hogervorst

This article analyses three local educational projects about the Nazi bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940, all of which took place from 1980 to the present day in the context of the dynamic memory culture of the bombardment. These three contexts testify to a process by which memory, increasingly derived from authentic locations and objects instead of individual memories, is put to use in education. Moreover, increased awareness of the disappearance of eyewitness generations means that young people are becoming key consumers and auxiliary producers of memory.

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“Who Wants to Be Sad Over and Over Again?”

Emotion Ideologies in Contemporary German Education about the Holocaust

Lisa Jenny Krieg

Based on an ethnographic field study in Cologne, this article discusses the connection between memory practices and emotion ideologies in Holocaust education, using Sara Ahmed’s concept of affective economies. Moral goals, political demands, and educators’ care for their students lead to tensions in the education process. Two case studies illustrate how educators and learners express different, often contradictory concepts of emotion. In these studies, emotions are selectively opposed to rationality. In some contexts, emotions are considered inferior to facts and obstacles to the learning process; in others, they are superior to facts because they can communicate moral messages reliably.

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Edward McInnis

This essay explores social and political values conveyed by nineteenth century world and universal history textbooks in relation to the antebellum era. These textbooks focused on the histories of ancient Greece and Rome rather than on histories of the United States. I argue that after 1830 these textbooks reinforced both the US land reform and the antislavery movement by creating favorable depictions of Tiberius and Caius Gracchus. Tiberius and Caius Gracchus (known as the “Gracchi”) were two Roman tribunes who sought to restore Rome's land laws, which granted public land to propertyless citizens despite opposition from other Roman aristocrats. The textbook authors' portrayal of the Gracchan reforms reflects a populist element in antebellum American education because these narratives suggest that there is a connection between social inequality and the decline of republicanism.

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Civilization versus Barbarism

The Franco-Prussian War in French History Textbooks, 1875–1895

Jörg Lehmann

In French history textbooks published after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871, the presentation of the war and its outcome frequently include the myth of France's revanche and depictions of the Prussian enemy as barbarians. Other textbooks presented a narrative of progress in which the French Third Republic is shown as the endpoint of a process of advancing civilization. While the idea of a French revanche can be regarded as a founding myth of the Third Republic, the narrative of progress can be seen as an echo of this myth, cleansed of the concept of the enemy as barbarian, which constitutes a national master narrative.

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Denis Vuka

This article explores history teaching in Albania, with particular emphasis on educational and methodological aspects of new history textbooks published after the liberalization of the school textbook market in 2008. National history textbooks serve as a basis for the assessment of changing educational principles and methodologies in history teaching in terms of five qualitative factors: educational aims, teaching techniques and methodologies, historical narratives, visual materials, and sources. The article thus assesses the degree to which textbooks fulfill their educational function and help to put learning theories into practice. The author also places the revision and reevaluation of national history textbooks in Albania in context by comparing them to the progress of Kosovo's recently established educational system.