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School & Nation

Identity Politics and Educational Media in an Age of Diversity

Peter Carrier

At a time when the power of schools and both state and federal education authorities to guide young people’s sense of belonging is being challenged by multilingualism, by the claims of supra- and subnational regions and minorities, by memories of national catastrophes and crimes, and by out-of-school educational media, this collection of essays provides an apposite exploration of the ways in which shared narratives continue to be transmitted and learnt. Its authors, whose work emerged from a series of conferences organised by the French National Institute for Pedagogical Research in Lyon, Barcelona and Paris in 2010, demonstrate not only ways in which multiple disciplines (including history, literature, social and language studies) address young people’s sense of attachment, but also how challenges to educational policy are reflected in school textbooks and curricula in Algeria, Bulgaria, Catalonia, France, Galicia, Germany, Quebec, Senegal and the USA. These studies about the role of education in relation to largely tenacious but shifting national identities should appeal to specialists of education, nationalism studies, history and political science.

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Introduction. Peter Carrier

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Introduction Peter Carrier The juxtaposition of two complementary, though complex and disputed, institutions as the ‘school’ and the ‘nation’ in the title of this collection of essays is deliberately intended to prompt reflection about the even more complex relation between them. For if the school is considered to be one of the pivotal institutions with which nations secured social cohesion via literacy and the dissemination of information and knowledge during the nineteenth century, it is also a place in which challenges to the nation-state are most apparent today. At a time in which economic and political sovereignty are arguably being increasingly displaced to supranational and regional levels, and populations mixed as a result of migration, this collection of essays provides insight into some ongoing debates about the role of schools in the articulation and negotiation of national identities in Algeria, Bulgaria, Catalonia, France, Galicia, Germany, Quebec, Senegal, and the United States of America. It is tempting, in light of the ongoing internationalisation and rationalisation of educational standards, to see the school as a tool in the service of nations which, in turn, stand in the service of a world polity in the making. Just as nation-states refer to universal rules in order to justify their authority (domestically), and to justify their autonomy (internationally), schools administer learning in citizenship (domestically), for example, in order to educate enlightened citizens who will go on to see themselves and operate as citizens not only of nations, but also of the world (internationally).1 Yet...

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