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Swedish study trips to Holocaust sites

Conference contribution
Authors Christer Mattsson
Published in Den fjärde nationella konferensen i pedagogiskt arbete Umeå universitet 19 – 20 augusti 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Segerstedt Institute
Language en
Subject categories Didactics, Pedagogy, Educational Sciences


So called “study trips” or excursions to Holocaust memorial sites have significantly increased since the turn of the millennia. In state museum Auschwitz Birkenau alone more than 2 million visitors walks and learns on the premises of the former camp. Not all of them are there for educational reasons and not all are youths, but the vast majority belongs to these two categories. The amount of Swedish visitors reached closely to 45000 in 2018, making study trips to Auschwitz as common as confirmation in church among Swedish teenagers. This study is the first of its kind researching the rationales and pedagogical goals among Swedish teachers who lead these study trips. The study is based on in-depth interviews with eleven teachers who have significant experiences of conducting excursions to Holocaust sites. The study is an integrated part in a larger research effort with the aim to answer questions concerning educational forms and goals for these pedagogical initiatives. This study reveal that these excursions are to be understood as pedagogical grassroots activities and thus not regulated by formal central policies. However, there has been a development of three major sub categories of excursions and it is clear that substantial amount of time and other resources are invested in these activities despite the fact that it is unclear how they relates to formal polices regulating Swedish school system. At the same time political initiatives to further increase these activities are taken on the highest governmental level. These political initiatives are not necessarily coherent with the pedagogical grassroots movement that have been developing the study trips. This study analysis the relations between the grassroots teacher’s logics for their pedagogical work with the ideological framing of the governmental initiatives.

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