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School & Nation

Identity Politics and Educational Media in an Age of Diversity

Edited By 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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Part I. Identity Politics

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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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