The Pedagogy of Remembrance and the Counter-Commemoration of the Columbus Quincentenary

  • Roger I. Simon


During a sabbatical leave in the spring of 1992, I began to take a serious interest in the cultural pedagogy being practiced within the continental social movement organized to contest the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the coast of the landmass now known as North America. This counter-commemorative pedagogy took many different forms, at times surfacing within the commercial minutia of everyday life.While renting an apartment in Berkeley for a few months, I received a mail-order catalog (addressed to “current resident”) inviting me to acquire an assorted set of contemporary American middleclass kitsch.Amid the plethora of procurable objects, which included audio cassettes of Classic Bob and Ray, Sterling Silver Teddy Bear earrings with matching necklace, a book entitled The Best of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and my choice of three different M.C. Escher silk neckties, was a T-shirt on which was printed a picture of a fifteenth-century sailing ship and the inscription “How could Columbus have discovered America when Native Americans were already here?” Accompanying the image of this item of apparel was the text: “This shirt poses an intriguing question and reminds us all that our continent’s heritage goes back a lot further than 1492.” The counter-commemoration clearly had not eluded commodification.


Indigenous People Visual Pedagogy Historical Memory Past Injustice Historical Imagination 
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© Roger I. Simon 2005

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  • Roger I. Simon

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