Political Context, History Teaching and National Identity: New approaches to European Education

Political Context, History Teaching and National Identity: New approaches to European Education

Thursday, 17 January 2019 - 10:45am to 5:45pm
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HR
Dr Ander Delgado (Basque Visiting Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Visiting Fellows Series

The ESC Basque Fellow Conference

Convenor: Dr Ander Delgado (University of the Basque Country / Basque Visiting Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford)

The aim of the workshop is to analyse the relationship between the political context and history teaching in different countries from 1990 until the present. Numerous academic studies, as well as many media and political debates, have drawn attention to the close relationship between history teaching and the formation of national identities among young people. Through its teaching, students can engage with the historical past of the nation, exploring its foundational elements and evolution over time. It is widely acknowledged that the history of the nation - its mythical origins, victories and defeats, and permanence despite the vicissitudes over time - is an important element in the justification of the nation’s character in a determined territory. As such, a fundamental outcome of history teaching is understood to be the development and transmission of national identity.

The selection of the essential elements of national history to be taught in the classroom is a key and contentious issue in any educational system. The study of curriculum texts in which educational authorities define aspects, such as the objectives, contents or evaluation criteria to be developed in schools, is an important aspect in the study of the relationship between their teaching and the national identity of students. Without denying the relevance of the study of these documents, this workshop proposes another perspective in the analysis of this topic that seeks to complement this approach: it examines the possible influence of the political context in the process of decision-making of these educational documents by education authorities. 

The proposed study acquires special relevance within plurinational states in which there is a debate or dispute around the configuration of national identity. In these states, important questions arise as to the definition of what history is taught in different nations or regions, and if there is coherence between the state and its national and/or regional components. If the teaching of history in schools is so important in enhancing social cohesion underpinning national identity, its management cannot be considered an irrelevant issue. For this reason, it is not strange that history teaching stimulates intense debate in the media and has become an influential axis of political confrontation. Therefore, the study of how the history syllabus is established and how the political context of struggle and confrontation can affect its definition is an important and original approach to the study of the relationship between history education and national identity.

The growing presence of migrants from other countries in the European Union, parts of the former European empires, and elsewhere has further intensified interest about what history has to be taught in the European schools. In a period where rising political populism has stimulated intense debate and dispute about national history and culture which often relate to history teaching in schools. Debates about the integration of migrants have proven intense and divisive. Some argue immigration not only compromises the survival of national identity but also the capacity of history teaching to bind he nation. Others propose a more inclusive way in which history should be taught to understand the role of cultural heterogeneity in contemporary states. The question about how and in what ways history should to be taught to increasingly diverse multicultural societies adds another area of investigation.

Please see below for a list of sessions and participants - to register for sessions PLEASE EMAIL: european.studies@sant.ox.ac.uk IN ADVANCE OF ATTENDANCE as places are limited.

10:45 Opening

11:00 – 12:30: PANEL 1: History teaching in plurinational States
Andrew Edwards (Bangor University)
Ander Delgado (University of the Basque Country / Basque Visiting Fellow, St Antony's, Oxford)

Chair: Konstantinos Kornetis (Santander Visiting Fellow, St Antony's, Oxford)

14:00 – 15:30: PANEL 2: Teaching old and new Empires
Terry Haydn (University of East Anglia)
Giovanna Leone (Sapienza University of Rome) 

Chair: Manolis Pratsinakis (Onassis Research Fellow, St Antony's, Oxford)

15:45 – 17:45: PANEL 3: Europe, populism, and history teaching
Eleni Christodoulou (Georg Eckert Institute, Germany)
Andy Mycock (University of Huddersfield)
Marko Demantowsky (University of Basel)

Chair: Barry Colfer (Deakin Visiting Fellow, St Antony's, Oxford)

17:45 Closing