A pedagogy of mourning: tarrying with/in tragedy, terror, and tension

Monica Waterhouse


In this text I offer a narrative reflection, as a teacher-traveler, on my live(d) experiences in a sometimes (always already) violent world. Preoccupied with the possibilities of the work of mourning, in the first two movements I draw on stories of my time teaching in China at the dawn of this millennium to tell tales of tragedy, terror, and tension that provoked strange pedagogical moments. I reflect on the difficulties and passions of live(d) pedagogies that crack open curri/culum to tarry with/in these provocative, generative spaces as places for mourning and connection, ambivalence and ambiguity. During the 3rd movement I join Butler’s questioning of ‘what counts as a grievable life’ as I attempt a textual encounter with an (un)grievable ‘other’. I ask: How might recognition of lives/deaths through the act of inscription and collective mourning be related to understanding human connection? In a pedagogical refrain, I draw Derrida into my conversation with feminist theory to ask seriously about the pedagogical potential of tarrying with/in mourning, particularly for peace education that prioritizes an awareness of human connection. What are the transformative possibilities of returning again to mourning? I conclude with a call from peace educators and other emerging epistemologies that challenge us to think differently about human connection in our pedagogical work. Above all this text is a provocation in/to difficult spaces of mourning and pedagogical movement.


Pedagogy; Mourning; Peace Education

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Open Journal Systems. ISSN: 1449-8855