(May contain triggers--discussion of violence)
So...I am in a contemplative mood, precipitated by some extra Valium this morning related to my recent hospital visit. And I've been looking at the "political systems" chapter of my Kumquatson textbook.
Through a series of mysterious circumstances, I happen to work in a Third World Shit-Hole that has experienced a recent and quite severe civil war. In an attempt to rebuild the country, TWSH created mechanisms for both victims and perpetrators of violence during that war to come forward and tell their stories. Violence is suffused in the culture of TWSH, both because of this war and an ongoing lively belief in the power and danger of witchcraft. During one of my stays in TWSH, my neighbors locked a woman in her home and set it on fire. She burned to death. I remember standing there gaping and numbly dialing emergency services (which do, oddly enough, exist in TWSH) only to be told that "no one would come" and to watch several young men point at the stupid foreigner who didn't understand "how things were done" in the area. I also travel to an adjacent TWSH sometimes, and there I've spent time with amputees...ATWSH was drawn into the armed conflict in TWSH and its population victimized.
I have a series of photographs of torture perpetrators (I find these, actually, the most unsettling) and victims. One of the strangest images (in my own head) is a picture of the tortured and torturer together, several years out. There is also the woman with the man who killed her son by pushing him out a 9th floor window.
I can teach this chapter of the textbook without talking about any of this stuff. In fact, Kumquatson makes it possible for me to teach without...actually...ever saying or doing anything in my classroom that isn't scripted by them.
But a nasty part of me wants to show some of these photos because I want to shock them out of being, for just a moment, Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes and to consider that, indeed, life sucks pretty hard in other parts of the world. Of course, in the BAUS mind, evidence of torture in other political regimes can just become one more piece of evidence about why the American way is the best way and why, indeed, the Third World IS a shit-hole.
Do I show them the photos to instruct (I have a good patter about the linkages of state violence to individual bodies) or do I just let it go?