Repeating Until We Can Remember: Difficult (Public) Knowledge in South Africa

H James Garrett, Sandra Schmidt


As part of the ongoing conversations in curriculum theory regarding difficult knowledge, representations of historical trauma, and public pedagogy, the authors of this paper draw from their experiences on an educational trip to South Africa.  The paper begins by exploring the nature of trauma and the relationship between public displays and private understandings.  The authors provide narratives of their experiences in two Apartheid museums, ones that are uncommon in their attempts to disrupt dominant narratives of progress, and subsequently use these narratives consider how the distinction between past and present collapses in the spaces of encounters with traumatic representations.  Finally, the consequences of such theorization are articulated in terms of the need to reconsider the purposes of educational lessons that rest on such encounters away from learning history to prevent the repetition of past events and toward an understanding of that repetition itself.

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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