Marginalized Biographies: Using the Life Stories of Jews, Roma, and Sinti in Educational Work

Working Group Report

In this working group we presented findings about “othering,” its consequences for students from the affected minorities, and the role that majority groups play in history education in multiethnic societies.

Based on a practical report by the Max Mannheimer Study Center in Dachau and the results of empirical research on teaching and learning conducted at the Jewish Museum Berlin, we questioned whether history education – even in today’s multiethnic society – does not use exclusionary practices itself, especially when it draws on the life stories of people who lived through the Nazi period and the Holocaust. In addition, we discussed the possibilities of educational approaches that are sensitive to difference.

Ulrike Wagner, Leipzig University, moderated the working group with contributions by

  • Steffen Jost,Max Mannheimer Study Center, Dachau
  • Katharina Obens, psychologist, Lernkultur – Institut für Bildungsforschung und Evaluation (Learning Culture Institute for Educational Research and Evaluation), Berlin

Steffen Jost: Historically Focused Educational Work Centering on the Persecution of Sinti and Roma in Nazi Germany

Despite all the progress that has been made in recent years, the persecution of Sinti and Roma continues to play a secondary role in history learning inside and outside school. Although a number of new works on this topic have appeared, new exhibits have been opened at memorial sites, and the topic has been discussed at numerous conferences, very little attention has been paid to the fact that the educational work is being conducted primarily by institutions and actors that are members of the majority society. In other words, few have examined the implications of their affiliation for a form of educational work whose target groups are mostly members of the majority society as well.

This introductory presentation described the possible implications of theoretical approaches stemming from postcolonial and antiziganism research. It addressed the question of how the history of a marginalized group should be taught. One important focus was the introduction of materials from the Max Mannheimer Study Center, especially those based on biographical approaches. The target group of the educational work was school classes enrolled in multi-day programs. The speaker also reported on an international youth meeting in which biographical interviews were conducted with Sinti and Roma from Germany and Serbia.


Dr. Diana Dressel
Head of Education Department
T +49 (0)30 259 93 515

Conference Documentation: Schools and Museums Conference Working Groups (19)

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