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Monthly Seminar

Figuring Memory: Social Practices and Collective Transformation with Chana Teeger

Virtual event via Zoom
Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 17:00 to 19:00
Session 4: Role Playing Racism: History Teaching and the Limits of Experiential Learning

Speaker: Chana Teeger, London School of Economics

This paper points to the limits of experiential learning when teaching about histories of racism and discrimination. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in a racially diverse South African high school, I document how teachers employed simulations and role playing exercises to teach about apartheid. Teachers argued that these would help build historical empathy. However, not only did the simulations fail to capture the actual costs of being black—or the privileges of being white— during apartheid, they also reinforced the notion that racial stratification was separate and distinct from students’ current situations. Through the simulations, apartheid was presented as a system that has no legacy. Connections were not drawn between the past system and the present context, which students might recognize as real and familiar. The simulations thus ironically served to delegitimize black students’ claims about ongoing racism at school and in the broader society.

Chana Teeger is an assistant professor in the Department of Methodology at the London School of Economics. She completed her PhD in Sociology at Harvard University. Prior to joining the LSE, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Johannesburg. Her research broadly examines how individuals make sense of inequality and has appeared in venues such as the American Sociological Review, Sociology of Education, Social Forces, and Socio-Economic Review. She is currently working on a book manuscript that documents how the history of apartheid is taught to—and understood by—young South Africans.


Discussant: Sandrine Lefranc, CNRS

Sandrine Lefranc is a Senior Researcher in Social Sciences at the French National Center for Scientific Research, France. Her work focuses on post-conflict societies and transitional justice. Sandrine’s publications in English include Beyond Memory: Can We Really Learn From the Past? (2020) and "A tale of many jurisdictions: how universal jurisdiction is creating a transnational judicial space" (2021).

This virtual event will take place via Zoom. Registered guests will receive a Zoom link prior to this event.


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