Contested language, memory, and oral history as curriculum questions: A tale from Cyprus

Nicoletta Christodoulou

Abstract


In the field of educational research, there is an increased interest in research on memory and education, invigorated by oral history projects. Oral history entails biographical and autobiographical segments and language is a central element through which messages delivered may inspire dialogue, conflict, self-reflection. In this paper, inspired by an example of a language terminology shift in everyday life, drawn from the Cyprus context, I ponder the dynamics between power and language that work toward strengthening conflict, and challenge memory and subjectivity. Taking a curriculum studies perspective, I reframe shifts in language terminology, memory, testimonies, and oral history as curriculum questions, in order to explore possibilities that a rich, authentic and subjective language can offer. This becomes a means to understand complex relations and different dynamics in contextualized situations. I also offer glimpses on the interaction of hidden curriculum, collective memory, language and implications. Archived oral histories from the Cyprus Oral History Project are analyzed based on the language terminology used, and important themes, ambiguities, similarities and differences. For the analysis I use Pinar’s method of autobiographical reflection and Edgerton’s reflections on ‘reading’ and ‘writing our lives.’ I suggest that considering language terminology usage is important in curriculum studies and useful in our continuous efforts to ponder curriculum and curriculum issues.

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Euro-JCS is indexed in CAPES/QUALIS (Category: Education |  Classification: B3)