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The silence of genocide and voice of survivors: the role of Holocaust memorials in education Open Access


Other title
public pedagogy
Holocaust Education
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Wittes, Sasha
Supervisor and department
Kachur, Jerrold (Education Policy)
Examining committee member and department
Anuik, Jonathan (Education Policy)
Kirova, Anna (Elementary Education)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoratical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Education
Degree level
Through Holocaust memorials, visitors to the sites are able to educate themselves on past events. It is with the building of these memorials that the importance of memory within the Jewish community is constructed and how an understanding of genocide is defined. Memorials are a product of their time and space, and to comprehend this point, the thesis begins with the importance of nationalism and the making of nationhood in all its variations. It is also critical to understand what makes up a nation, the ethnic identity, and the community. Through a lens of public pedagogy, I explore what the Holocaust means for societies, communities, and myself. I do this by delving into the politics of the word “holocaust,” its various spellings, definitions, and enunciation and its multiple receptions and responses. Using autoethnography and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), I explore the variety of meanings, linguistic enunciations, and social contexts of being the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. I connect this exploration with an interrogation of the varied perspectives of (and in and through) collective memory and their relationships to identity formation and how people consider the various subjective and objective orientations to memorials on a continuum of the naively popular to the academically informed. Furthermore, my linguistic and social contextualization of materials draws on the selective use of an expansive secondary literature to provide an overview of the Holocaust in world history as well as Canada’s role during the Holocaust and public pedagogy and education to comprehend antisemitism. The main purpose of this thesis is to explore the nature of collective memory, public pedagogy, and education in and for public spaces. The thesis focuses on how these ideas fit into the notion of Holocaust memorials as critical educative tools. I conclude that informal sites of learning have the capacity to encourage questioning and critical understanding for people who engage with memorials. Memorials, as places of public pedagogy, have tremendous power to influence people through their aesthetic use of physical space and the multitude of ways to learning opportunities for participants. My final reflections in the thesis provide a multi-perspective analysis on the role of memorials in public pedagogy, and how they can provide a myriad of new ways to relook at the past, revisit the present, and reimagine the future.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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