Remembering Obligation: Witnessing Testimonies of Historical Trauma
Educators often assume that meaningful encounters with traumatic historical events can be brought about through hearing, reading, or viewing accounts that make apparent personal engagements with history. These accounts variously take the form of diaries or eyewitness statements, documentary photographs or film, novels, poetry, stories, song, fictionalized film, or theatre.The primary purpose of all such accounts is the provision of testimony: to convey through multiple expressive forms the historical substance and significance of prior events and experiences.Testimony, thus, compromises representations either by those who have lived through such events or those who have been told or shown such lived realities, either directly or indirectly, and have been moved to convey to others what has been impressed upon them. Pedagogically, these testimonial accounts are deployed as modes of instruction that attempt to transmit information regarding the past and to keep specific events before one’s eyes, thereby instantiating their significance for current and future generations (Wieviorka, 1994). As modes of instruction, such accounts carry the injunction “listen and remember.”Yet, how such listening is to be accomplished and what remembrance might mean when mediated through testimony entails pedagogical, ethical, and epistemological considerations.
KeywordsPrior Event Past Generation Witness Testimony Holocaust Education Epistemological Consideration
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