It’s mid-May, the Sami season of Gijre-giesie (spring-summer) has arrived, and I couldn’t be happier. There are buds on all of the trees and green things have sprung up positively everywhere. While winter crawled along here, spring moves furiously, making up lost ground. The outdoor tables outside my window are uncovered, and Swedes can regularly be found outside, eyes closed, faces turned smiling towards the sun. It’s been days now since I have seen true darkness with the sun rising at 3.30am and not setting until after 10pm.
It’s safe to declare that, on the whole, Swedish winter did not agree with me. That said, there were some amazing moments. Standing in the majestic silence at Lake Torneträsk, in Sápmi (Lapland) in the midday twilight, dwarfed by the surrounding peaks was one.
Witnessing the most resplendent display of Aurora Borealis in the midnight forest at Abisko, I will never forget. My first proper snowball fight amidst the pines in the Stadsliden (State Forest) at Gammlia. Enjoying a full Swedish Julbord on Christmas Eve complete with 30+ varieties of sill (pickled herring). Sampling semlor (traditional Swedish pastries) with new friends. Winter was magical in brief snippets, but on the whole, those months were some of the most difficult I have experienced; away from home, in near-constant darkness, the temperature below -20 most days, and none of the usual respites available, like a walk outside, or time with family.
The arrival of spring-summer marks the beginning of my final three months in Sweden. While I welcome the sun and light, it is bittersweet knowing my time in Sweden is coming to an end. The main objective of my project at Umeå University, the Historical Justice and History Education Symposium, is a mere three weeks away (4-5 June). Together with my colleagues, we’ve put together an exciting program of international researchers working in different contexts; academic, school, museums, on the challenges of historical justice. The contents will be available as a book volume in 2020. If you want to follow along on the conference days, I’ll be live-tweeting during the sessions where I’m not presenting or moderating via the hashtag #hjhed19.
After that, I’m very privileged to be heading to Toronto for the Curriculum Inquiry Writing Fellowship and Writers’ Retreat. I’ve an amazing opportunity to develop an article-length manuscript with mentoring from OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) faculty, the Curriculum Inquiry editors and in dialogue with other fellows. The article will extend ideas I published last year on the topic of history curriculum and historical justice. In this article, I’m looking closely at the relationship between disciplinary approaches to history curriculum and the contemporary demands and challenges of historical justice in established democracies. All going well, the article will eventually be published in Curriculum Inquiry.
In mid-July, I’m off to Porto for ISCHE41, the international standing conference for the history of education. Together with fellow-Aussie, Beth Marsden, I’m hosting a symposium on ‘Educational History and the Challenges of Justice: Contested Spaces and their Legacies.’ We’re fortunate to be collaborating with an awesome team of early-career and doctoral researchers who, in various ways, are interrogating questions of injustice and education in the past/present. Not to mention, the dynamic duo of Julie McLeod and Mette Buchardt, who are participating as discussants. ISCHE provides an opportunity to develop the historical, rather than didactical, aspects of my research; to think about how education has contributed to injustice in the past, and more recently, how education has been tasked with making amends. The plan is to develop the papers presented into a journal special issue, so keep an eye out for that!
I return to Sydney and UTS in mid-August to begin the task of preparing my thesis for submission in early-2020. After all the excitement abroad, it will be a time to focus all energies on condensing, polishing, grinding out and generally letting go of what’s been an all-consuming, five-year project. Thanks for reading, until next time!