This online companion to Teaching the Violent Past: History Education and Reconciliation (Rowman & Littlefield, September 2007) provides a general overview of the edited volume that is based on a five-year international project sponsored by the Carnegie Council. The book and the resources presented here look at how a society deals with its violent past and issues related to the process of reconciliation and the teaching of history in schools.
Using nine case studies, Teaching the Violent Past examines the relationship between how history is taught and the slow process of reconciliation between former enemies in post-Soviet Russia, Northern Ireland, North and South Korea, Canada, Pakistan and India, Japan, Spain, Guatemala, and Germany. The contributors explore the meaning of reconciliation for each of their distinct conflicts. They then examine history textbooks, the politics of post-conflict high school history education, and the teaching of difficult events in a nation's past such as civil and international wars, genocide, and mistreatment of indigenous peoples. The chapter authors are scholars in the fields of political science, history, sociology, human rights, education, and international relations.
Since history education is an important and pervasive factor in the formation of civic identity, how histories of violent conflict are taught and balanced with the need for positive narratives should be a central issue not only for educators but also for those concerned with transitional justice and peace building. Moreover, history education is an important addition to the diplomatic, political, and legal aspects of political reconciliation.
The need to better understand the concept of reconciliation calls for more studies on how history education can foster new relationships with former enemies and new understandings of historical identities. The edited volume and this online companion are intended to meet this need.