Conference: “The Ambiguous Semantics of ‘Reeducation’ in Transnational and Transhistorical Perspective”

Symbolic picture for the article. The link opens the image in a large view.

The Ambiguous Semantics of “Reeducation” in Transnational and Transhistorical Perspective

February 16-18, 2022 at Amerikahaus Munich and online

The international conference The Ambiguous Semantics of “Reeducation” in Transnational and Transhistorical Perspective takes as its point of departure an examination of US-American reeducation policies in Germany and Japan after World War II from a comparative and transnational perspective yet broadens the focus beyond this specific geographical constellation and beyond the period of the immediate postwar to problematize and discuss the concept of “reeducation” in a broader sense. This includes a rigorous investigation of power differentials and a nuanced analysis of intercultural encounters in occupied territories as well as in colonial and postcolonial settings. “Reeducation,” viewed in this light, describes various, at times incommensurable, ideas, norms, and practices, including strategies of democratization, emancipation, and empowerment but also, more often than not, different forms of violence (both physical and epistemic) and the use of force in occupation settings in order to control an indigenous population. Hence, the ambiguous and changing semantics of “reeducation” will be discussed as they appear in different functional areas of society – as part of political communication, as mass media phenomena, as institutional creeds, and as programmatic rhetoric appropriated by different actors and groups in civil society and military and para-military institutions. Studying “reeducation” can shed light on multidirectional influences and ramifications as well as point to the overt or more subtle paradoxes that the prescribed or voluntarily enacted (un)learning processes may entail. The focus on processes indicates that “reeducation” in its different shapes and guises is itself often both a vehicle and a product of transitions.

The conference opens with a keynote by Susan L. Carruthers (University of Warwick), titled “Re-education: The Imperial Pre-History and Afterlives of a Punitive/Pedagogical Conceit” on February 16, 5.30 pm (CET) that will be available via livestream. The full program can be found here.

To register, please send an e-mail to The conference will be conducted online.