Teaching the Holocaust from a Social Justice Perspective
Last year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Only the very youngest survivors of the Holocaust are still with us – they survived as children but are in their nineties now, and we lose more of them every year. Soon there will be no first-person witnesses as the Holocaust recedes further into the past and becomes something less connected to memory. For many of us who are dedicated to teaching the Holocaust, it is becoming increasingly important to embrace a social justice approach and connect the horrors and persecution of the past to the on-going challenges of our present: the struggle against authoritarianism and violence, the continued killing of unarmed Black people, the targeting of the LGBTQ+ community with a particular focus on trans youth, the rise in antisemitism, the targeting of immigrants and the undocumented, and the horrific rise in anti-Asian violence and hatred. This panel will present strategies and theories and share experiences – things that worked, things that didn’t work – that relate to connecting the remote past to the lived present for diverse student populations, with the idea that quality interdisciplinary humanities education has the potential to help students create connections and addresses what we sometimes think of as engaged citizenry. It is one more way in which we invest in a future that we hope will be more sustainable, and more just.
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