A Pedagogy of Witnessing
Curatorial Practice and the Pursuit of Social Justice
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Explores the curating of “difficult knowledge” through the exhibition of lynching photographs in contemporary museums.
This outstanding comparative study on the curating of "difficult knowledge" focuses on two museum exhibitions that presented the same lynching photographs. Through a detailed description of the exhibitions and drawing on interviews with museum staff and visitor comments, Roger I. Simon explores the affective challenges to thought that lie behind the different curatorial frameworks and how viewers' comments on the exhibitions perform a particular conversation about race in America. He then extends the discussion to include contrasting exhibitions of photographs of atrocities committed by the German army on the Eastern Front during World War II, as well as to photographs taken at the Khmer Rouge S-21 torture and killing center. With an insightful blending of theoretical and qualitative analysis, Simon proposes new conceptualizations for a contemporary public pedagogy dedicated to bearing witness to the documents of racism.
Roger I. Simon (1942–2012) was Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, and the author of several books, including The Touch of the Past: Remembrance, Learning, and Ethics.