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This paper is about memory, the elusive process of remembering and of an encounter between a researcher and a participant who after five years reunited to remember. The object under study is a high school social justice curriculum with a central focus on the development of social action projects. Grounded in Pitt and Britzman’s work on difficult knowledge, this paper asks: What do 10th grade students who spent four years attending a school committed to the Freirian principles of political engagement remember about their high school experience? Past and recent interviews are woven together to surface three emergent lines of thinking: the failure to secure knowledge as unitary and in agreement; education as deferred in time; and research as relational dilemmas and unconscious desire. The aim is to complicate teaching and learning by illuminating its difficulties and unseating our reliance on evidentiary accountability, production and outcome. Throughout, the positionality of the researcher is discussed, particularly as unconscious desire for social justice, as lovely knowledge, becomes transferred through one participant, Sadie.


This article was originally published in Curriculum Inquiry, available at



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