Resistance Is not Futile: Badiou, Simulacra and a Story From the Nazi-Occupied Netherlands

Cathryn van Kessel


This paper engages with Alain Badiou’s understanding of evil as simulacrum in secondary social studies and history classrooms. Through family oral history as a vector for thinking with Badiou’s philosophy this paper explores Badiou’s premise that the Nazis upheld a simulacrum as truth, to the detriment and horror of millions. Anthonius and Johanna’s actions, members of the Dutch resistance during the Second World War, provide an example of the complexities of ethics during difficult times that can inform teachers as they explore nuances regarding how ordinary people can act independently from authority, but interconnected with others in troubling times. Personal anecdotes are powerful tools in shaping knowledge and attitudes; thus, stories of resistance in our classrooms are vital as we seek to make emancipatory and egalitarian changes to our world.


social studies education; Alain Badiou; Second World War; secondary education

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