Trauma, justice and the politics of emotion: The violence of sentimentality in education

  • Zembylas M
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Abstract

This article interrogates the sentimentality, resentment or desensitization in education as a result of the politics of emotion in the circulation of trauma narratives. Such an interrogation advises a different analysis of trauma narratives, one that acknowledges the politics of trauma and the dangers from its rhetoric. Sentimental education takes its strength by framing normative emotional responses to all traumas; it is grounded on empty empathy and unfounded optimism while giving the illusion of a just response. The tension between claims for universality or particularity of trauma requires a different pedagogical treatment of trauma narratives  one that moves beyond such a duality. It is argued that this tension needs to be critically interrogated in schools, and educators and students need to consider what it would mean to subvert sentimental responses to trauma narratives.

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