'But we saw birds at Birkenau': some salient findings from a socio-material study of learning at Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

Recent events within Scotland – such as ‘shock statistics' which indicate Scotland’s record levels of hate (Campsie, 2012) - have convinced that elements of British society resist multiculturalism (Jackson, 1989). The place of the Holocaust has thus never been more vindicated, both in terms of its historicity and the lessons we can learn from these genocides, regarding citizenship and moral education (Cowan and Maitles, 2011). Yet, despite a burgeoning body of literature which purports to evaluate the ‘best methods’ for Holocaust teaching, little is understood about educational 'affects'; in particular, the intrinsic value as well as the cost-effectiveness of educational excursions to Holocaust sites abroad (Lindquist, 2011). This paper outlines salient findings of a PhD study investigating spaces of pedagogy at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Poland. Here, learning processes are explored through one of three studied contexts (a Scottish Government-funded student excursion). Deploying a novel sociomaterial methodology, data collated from observant-participation, film and group interviews show how Holocaust knowledges are performed by architecture, artefacts and other pedagogical devices of the museum space (Keil, 2005). Indeed whilst the narrative of the museum guides is successful in ‘sacred places’ of the site, this study found that students also experience ‘moments of realisation’ about the Holocaust through disruptions to the formal tour, in transient spaces such as the museum exit area, where encounters with animals unexpectedly occurred (cf. Ellsworth, 2005). In this way, it is argued that pedagogy makes place but often, place makes (effective) pedagogy which has implications for how future Holocaust tours might be conducted.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventEleventh Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars: Time, Movement and Space: Genocide Studies and Indigenous Peoples - University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
Duration: 16 Jul 201419 Jul 2014

Conference

ConferenceEleventh Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars
Abbreviated titleIAGS
CountryCanada
CityWinnipeg
Period16/07/1419/07/14

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Henderson, S. (2014). 'But we saw birds at Birkenau': some salient findings from a socio-material study of learning at Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Abstract from Eleventh Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Winnipeg, Canada.