This chapter situates theoretically the basic constructs of the book—trauma, healing, reconciliation—drawing from psychoanalytic and sociopolitical perspectives of trauma and emotion. The chapter discusses the links between emotion and critical pedagogy, emphasizing how emotions can be engaged as critical and transformative forces in peace education. While the emotions of trauma are a very real, and a very devastating feature of life in conflict and post-conflict societies, it is argued that educators can work toward peacebuilding, healing, and reconciliation through devising critical pedagogies that do not remain stuck in trauma or stay too firmly grounded in such binary pairings as oppressor/oppressed, master/slave, and power/freedom. The chapter ends by discussing how the notion of critical emotional praxis intersects with both critical pedagogy and critical peace education, and by explaining the importance of this intersection for analyzing the empirical research in the chapters that follow.
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