Banal Evil and Social Studies Education

  • Cathryn van KesselEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Educational Futures book series (PSEF)


One of the most uncomfortable realizations about evil is that it can be part of our daily lives. Evil in this chapter is examined in its form as large-scale violence (e.g., genocide, racism). It is easy for us to assume that atrocities are reserved for far-away places or strangers in the distant past, but such assumptions would be incorrect. Evil comes in many forms; some evildoers are extraordinary while others are not. Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) helps us think through evil when terrible deeds are perpetuated not by unique individuals (e.g., serial killers), but by ordinary people. How might we consider discussions of ordinary evil as empowering students to take action against injustice and violence?


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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