Unsettling Narratives: Teaching and Learning About Genocide in a Settler Space

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Unsettling Narratives: Teaching and Learning About Genocide in a Settler Space

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This research study examined how students and I navigated learning and teaching about genocide and mass violence in the context of a semester-long high school comparative genocide and human rights elective course at DeWitt Junior-Senior High School in rural south-central Wisconsin. Specifically, the study examined how students individually and collectively navigated the “difficult knowledge” (Pitt & Britzman, 2003) of learning about settler colonialism (Tuck & Yang, 2012), the genocide of Indigenous peoples in the United States during the nineteenth century, the legacies of genocide and mass violence at the intersections of U.S. and Indigenous societies during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (Dunbar-Ortiz, 2014), and the enduring legacies of white supremacy and settlerness. Additionally, this study sought to understand how I, a white social studies teacher, navigated teaching about settler colonialism and the genocide of Indigenous peoples in a settler space (Dalbo, 2021). Through examining one specific semester-long elective class during the 2021-2022 academic year, this research grew out of my and my students’ struggles and success in teaching and learning about genocide and mass violence over the past fifteen years that I have been engaged in social studies teaching and research. This qualitative study (Patton, 2015) brought together aspects of case study (Merriam, 1998; Yin, 2011), and practitioner research, specifically self-study (Loughran & Northfield, 1998; Zeichner, 1999) methodologies and methods.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2022. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Robert Poch. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 300 pages.

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Dalbo, George. (2022). Unsettling Narratives: Teaching and Learning About Genocide in a Settler Space. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/252344.

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