Mr. Green Explores Memorialization in Germany

Mr. Green, Upper School’s Modern History and Politics instructor, hit the streets of Berlin for 12 days in October. However, it was no vacation. He was there to co-instruct with two UNM professors for a UNM class, “Architecture of Justice.” Mr. Green explained that he was able to be a part of this experience abroad because he took this class as a graduate student at UNM and impressed his professors. Currently, he’s working towards a PhD in Educational Thought and Socio-Cultural Studies at UNM. In his PhD program, he is interested in “how education manifests in transitional justice, like post-authoritarian rule and post-civil war.”

The Berlin course, that he helped teach, combines two disciplines: political science and architecture. The class focuses on the link between these two elements, and the ways architecture can either facilitate or ameliorate human rights violations. “We look at everything from restorative justice and reparations, to local politics of Berlin and memory politics,” said Mr. Green. “Given that Berlin has the highest per capita amount of memorializations, it’s an amazing case study. We use the city as our classroom and partner with different local institutions...It’s really interactive and hands-on.”

Mr. Green explained that as a teacher of the course, he spends most of his time asking students really tough questions about memorialization. “Students walk away with a nuanced understanding of how memorialization plays a role on both the private consciousness of an individual, and also the public.” He added, “When trauma happens in a society, both the public and private consciousness are affected differently.” These are some of the questions he poses to students: “Who has the right to memorialize?” “Who gets left out?” “Does the memorial lead to greater division? Or catharsis?” “What is the difference between military memorials versus state sponsored memorials?” Through these questions, the class examines the concept of narratives built by cities through architecture.

Mr. Green explained that Berlin is a great place to explore for this course. “There is so much layered history and massive amounts of trauma...A society that has forged ahead through trauma, over and over.” There are at least 200 memorials throughout the city. “You can’t escape it; it’s everywhere,” said Mr. Green. The class visited memorials in different forms—from statues, to parks, to plaques on the sidewalk, and in many museums.

While Mr. Green was abroad, he still taught his classes at Bosque. Through video-conferencing, he was able to show his students around Berlin and take them to different historical sites, including the Berlin Wall. In class, his students created an interactive map of the city. He tasked some students to map out where major historical events took place, and others focused on transit. He said, “Overall, I think they enjoyed it.” His days in Germany were long. In the morning he’d wake up and teach his graduate students in Berlin, and then teach his Bosque students as late as 11 pm due to the time difference. For Mr. Green, the long days were worth it to ensure that all of his students had a good experience while he was abroad.

He might be done teaching the Berlin course, but he is not finished teaching his students at Bosque about “the nuances and complexities” of European cities involved in World War II. His class is going to read a book called The Darker Nations that is essentially the antithesis of the historical account of the West. “I’m going to challenge students as we read this book to think about Berlin and European cities and cities of power from a different perspective,” explained Mr. Green.“I’m going to ask some tough questions.”