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Teaching political science through memory work
Unformatted Document Text:  of participants, the individual story becomes less connected to a certain person and less specific, and it thereby becomes easier to compare stories in order to discern patterns of similarity and difference. This also minimizes the risk of memory work becoming a sort of therapeutically oriented biography writing in which the “I”-person is scrutinized and in which the questions posed concern how the “I”-person became who she is rather than how different forms of social order are created, challenged or maintained. 3. The flag project The pedagogical research project on memory work was carried out with students studying political science on the basic level at Stockholm University. The students worked in groups of 4 to 5 with collective analysis of the gender-nation theme. Half of the students analysed a conventional empirical material provided in a handout consisting of some media material, a parliamentary debate and pictures of the royal family 4 , while the other group carried out a memory work where stories that they had written on “A memory of the flag” were interpreted and analysed. Both groups of students were first asked to freely associate and discuss the memory stories/the empirical material in the handout. They were, thereafter, instructed to try to find differences and similarities in the stories/the material and, finally, to relate their interpretations to the theoretical texts that they had read in advance. 5 All of the groups were also required to hand in a written account of their interpretations a week after the seminar. Our overriding ambition in having only one of the two groups work with memory stories was to enable a comparison between the learning and interpretative processes that these different ways of dealing with the 4 The handout consisted of a drawing of the symbol of Finland (a young girl), a picture of crown-princess Victoria delivering a speech on her 18 th birthday, an extract from a parliamentary debate on the question of making the Swedish national day a national holiday, and an extract from a text discussing the work of Swedish UN-soilders in Bosnia. The picture material can be found in the appendix. 5 These texts were Wendt Höjer & Åse 1999, an extract from Pettman 1996 and a text analyzing media constructions of ”immigrants” in Sweden; Brune 2003. 6

Authors: Wendt, Maria. and Åse, Cecilia.
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of participants, the individual story becomes less connected to a certain person and less specific,
and it thereby becomes easier to compare stories in order to discern patterns of similarity and
difference. This also minimizes the risk of memory work becoming a sort of therapeutically
oriented biography writing in which the “I”-person is scrutinized and in which the questions
posed concern how the “I”-person became who she is rather than how different forms of social
order are created, challenged or maintained.
3. The flag project
The pedagogical research project on memory work was carried out with students studying
political science on the basic level at Stockholm University. The students worked in groups of 4
to 5 with collective analysis of the gender-nation theme. Half of the students analysed a
conventional empirical material provided in a handout consisting of some media material, a
parliamentary debate and pictures of the royal family
, while the other group carried out a
memory work where stories that they had written on “A memory of the flag” were interpreted
and analysed. Both groups of students were first asked to freely associate and discuss the memory
stories/the empirical material in the handout. They were, thereafter, instructed to try to find
differences and similarities in the stories/the material and, finally, to relate their interpretations to
the theoretical texts that they had read in advance.
All of the groups were also required to hand
in a written account of their interpretations a week after the seminar. Our overriding ambition in
having only one of the two groups work with memory stories was to enable a comparison
between the learning and interpretative processes that these different ways of dealing with the
4
The handout consisted of a drawing of the symbol of Finland (a young girl), a picture of crown-princess Victoria
delivering a speech on her 18
th
birthday, an extract from a parliamentary debate on the question of making the
Swedish national day a national holiday, and an extract from a text discussing the work of Swedish UN-soilders in
Bosnia. The picture material can be found in the appendix.
5
These texts were Wendt Höjer & Åse 1999, an extract from Pettman 1996 and a text analyzing media constructions
of ”immigrants” in Sweden; Brune 2003.
6


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