Thursday, April 10, 2014

Notes & Thoughts from Histories of Violence Session, #OAH2014

By Nina Kendall
Historians ask hard questions and search for the answers. They hold the mirror up to humanity and demand that it look itself in the eye and admit the truth, never is this truer than when talking about violence.
I got a chance to learn about the work being done by the Histories of Violence Collective recently. They did a good job of presenting the challenges to completing their research, teaching these topics in the classroom, and presenting their work to the public. This session certainly raised some interesting questions for me to consider as I head back to the classroom.
My Questions:
Who and what in history needs to be demythologized?
What stories and experiences are still being left out of the historical narrative students learn?
How could students be set to investigate the historical record and respond to gaps in the record?
How could I illustrate these gaps at the local level on any topic?
How could memorialization be used to illustrate learning, expand narratives, or expose gaps in the local historical narrative?
Plenty to think about as I plan for the rest of the year.
Here are my notes from this session:
Historical Concerns:
*Remembering and Forgetting
*Memory and Silence
*Ethical Telling
*Violence as a state process
*Creating a new scheme of differences
Instructional Concerns and Developments;
*Teaching without silencing or reiterating victimization.
*New narratives that include these acts as part of the story. 
*Examples of Alternative Texts: lynching postcards, internment photographs
*Focus on teaching context to move beyond how bad is this act to place act
Questions to Consider:
*How does teaching histories of violence in the classroom work?
*What new narratives does this add to US history?
*How can histories of violence serve as a counterweight to liberal progressive history?
History of Violence Instructional Problems:
*Long list of how awful
*Can make some acts undervalued via comparison
*Leads to unethical/desensitized viewing
Imagining a life free of violence is revolutionary.
Witnessing is a form of social empathy.
Sample Assignments:
Violence from a place you have lived.  A narrative surrounding an local history event.
*Public History Project(Scale model of museum/memorial )
*Audio tour/ App to understand the history of violence location
*Teaching Curriculum: examine existing options and improve

*Lost stories of violence
*Acts of violence as moments of progress
*Actors of violence/taught as heroes
*Dependent on visual images and oral histories
*Creating a new part of meaningful American Memory
*Finding Appropriate Sources for Establishing Memory

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