Date & time
4 May 2021 09:30 BST / 13:30 PKT
History Education
Our Events

Student dialogue: Teaching and Understanding the Violent Colonial Past



History Education

This will be a closed event, with no recording and an emphasis on free and open discussion.

There exists a vast asymmetry of historical understanding in which people outside of Britain can spend years learning about centuries of violent oppression, only to come to the UK and discover nobody remembers any of it. There are similar distortions in the presentation of controversies in Pakistan’s colonial history. Here, the teaching of history is either mediated through textbooks, syllabi, expectations/rubrics developed in the West or is based on rote learning, with little emphasis on critical reflection in considering and assessing the past.

This online event is open to registrations from final year undergraduates or post-graduate students of History, Education, and Political Science from the UK and Pakistan.  We are asking for separate registration to ensure a good balance of students from each country: Pakistan students register here. UK students register here

This online workshop brings together final year undergraduate and post-graduate students of History, Education, and Political Science from the UK and Pakistan to encourage transnational and cross-cultural reflection on the broad theme of history and colonial violence. 

Starting with a short animation produced by Engage Pakistan on ‘Imperial “Peace”: Jallianwala Bagh 1919 (2021) discussion will centre around the following key questions: 

  • Why is there an increasing tendency to frame discussions of imperial history around a moral balance sheet – evaluating the past as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, instilling ‘pride’ or bringing ‘shame’? What are the consequences of this binary approach? 
  • Where are the silences in popular understanding of British and Pakistani imperial history? 
  • How does the relative quiet in respective education systems about controversial aspects of colonial history compare with the way politicians in the UK and Pakistan discuss these issues? 
  • What role do scholars researching these issues have in the production of narratives of empire that are disseminated to schoolchildren, through textbooks and other channels, in the UK and Pakistan? 
  • How can a more nuanced, inclusive understanding of the colonial past be achieved? 
  • Are non-formal modes of dissemination, such as the animated video, better equipped to deal with controversial and difficult historical topics? 
  • What are the implications of ‘changing the narrative’ about colonial violence, particularly in terms of national identity productioncommunity cohesion, and the saliency of the national story? 

The workshop will be led by Catriona Pennell (University of Exeter, UK), Sameen Mohsin Ali and Tania Saeed (Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan) 

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