Abstract

Abstract:

Engaging Holocaust survivors primarily as "witnesses" who provide "testimony"—which has long been the prevailing paradigm of practice with survivors—radically oversimplifies both survivors' lives and their accounts of their lives. Similarly, the conventional "testimony" model limits the extent to which we are likely to become engaged in, and implicated by, survivors' retelling. I have been making those arguments for over forty years. Here, the focus is primarily on teaching "beyond testimony": especially through immersion in survivors' recounting as a deliberate, situated, multiply contingent process in which students themselves become, in a survivors' phrase, "participants in a conversation." In my classroom, collaborative exploration—that is, participation in conversation—replaces "receiving a testimony" as the guiding paradigm. Students' responses to such conversations are featured. One student wrote about a survivor who visited the class: "She was not 'just' a survivor, if I can say it that way. And that made her being a survivor much more significant. The 'notsurvivor' part of her—the experiences and traits that are just like us or people we know—is what made the 'survivor part' real. Not a symbol of the Holocaust. But one of us." Engaging individual survivors as "one of us" rather than "symbols of the Holocaust" can transform how we teach about genocide, and the few who live after, even when only memoirs, recordings, and transcripts remain.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-8592
Print ISSN
0094-0798
Pages
pp. 360-379
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-25
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2020
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