Identity Politics and Educational Media in an Age of Diversity
Edited By Peter Carrier
Part I. Identity Politics
Part I Identity Politics The Empire in French History Teaching From a Promise to a Burden Françoise Lantheaume The French colonial empire was essentially formed in the nineteenth century, for the most part in Africa, Asia and the West Indies. Composed of territories and populations with diverse statuses, subjected to colonial political and economic development projects, the empire was, until the 1960s, an important topic in education. The space formerly devoted to the empire in curricula and textbooks testifies to its importance, as does the effort displayed in them to keep abreast of colonial affairs, hewing fairly closely to the current situation at the time. Until the beginning of the wars of independence, the history of the empire (involving conquest, exploitation, relations between the empire and metropolitan France) was the focus of a narrative that served the aims of a national cohesion that was battered and bruised by political and social divides, the various revolutions of the nineteenth century being just one expression of these divisions. A different ‘us’ was being created, combining ideas of national and imperial grandeur. Education seemed to be a way to forge a common awareness of ‘us’, and this concept, however heterogeneous and non-egalitarian, displaced the other – the potential enemy to be dominated – outside of mainland France. Which Kind of School Narrative for the Colonial Empire? The colonial empire has played various roles for France, with economic and political ones being the most often emphasised. However, beginning in the last decades of the nineteenth...
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