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Author(s): Pearce, Andy
Date: 2013
Abstract: At the time of writing, two major landmarks have occurred in what might be called the history of the ‘afterlife of Holocaust memory’ in Britain.1 Most recently, the beginning of a new academic year in schools and colleges in England and Wales brought the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the National Curriculum — an event of immense significance in relation to Holocaust education in the United Kingdom. Whereas previously the presence of the Holocaust in educational curricula varied considerably, the incorporation of the genocide into the statutory content for the first National Curriculum for History in 1991 ensured that school history would become a core conduit in the expansion of knowledge and awareness among a new generation of young people. Beyond the chalkface, the other noteworthy anniversary of 2011 took place on 27 January when Britain held its tenth annual Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). A day which ‘provides an opportunity for everyone to learn the lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides and apply them to the present day to create a safer, better future’, HMD speaks to and of a process of heightened insti-tutionalisation which began in earnest at the turn of the millennium and has continued unabated since.2 HMD thus provides an illuminating window onto the preconceptions, priorities and politics which currently envelop and influence the shape of memorialisation in Britain, but it also does much more than this: as one of the first such days to be created in Western Europe following the Stockholm Declaration of 2000, Britain’s HMD also gestures to a gamut of issues related to memorialisation in general and Holocaust memory in the contemporary world in particular. Amongst others, these include the practices and procedures of collective remembrance, the forces behind a ‘turning’ to memory in the postmodern epoch, and the rationale for (and consequences of) the emergence of the Holocaust as a global phenomena in the past quarter of a century.