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«A Comparative Case Study of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland by Melanie Liese B.A. School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies ...»

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While the Georg-Eckert-Institute for International Textbook Research is actively engaged internationally and locally as well as in comparative research between countries7, many other studies have been carried out by academics who are not necessarily affiliated to this institute. These studies cover various research themes including, for example, the representation of gender and sexuality, of religions and of migrants. Because this study focuses on the representation of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in textbooks in North Rhine-Westphalia and Ireland respectively, some studies concerning the themes of migration, plurality and ethnic and cultural diversity are reviewed next.

With regard to the representation of migrants in German textbooks, a number of studies have emerged over the last decades. Studies between the early 1980s and the mid 1990s suggest that even though “textbooks extensively cover the subject [migration]” (Schissler 2006), “interkulturelle Inhalte und Arbeitsweisen in den untersuchten Schulbüchern [waren] nur wenig vorhanden” [intercultural content and approaches have only been sparsely present in the textbooks examined] (Luchtenberg 1995, in Triarchi-Herrmann 2007 p.1). Accordingly, in the past, the ethnic and cultural „other‟ has been represented in textbooks, but not under the aspects of intercultural education, “which respects, celebrates and recognises the normality of diversity in all areas of human life [and] sensitises the learner to the idea that humans have naturally developed a range of different ways of life, customs and worldviews” (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 2005, p.3).

One example is a study conducted by Karin Guggeis in 1991, where the image of Africa and its people in Bavarian geography books has been examined using “eine Kombination aus der descriptive-hermeneutischen Methode, der quantitativen und der qualitativen Inhaltsanalyse [a combination of the descriptive-hermeneutical method, the quantitative and the qualitative content analysis] (p.253). Here, Guggeis criticises the terminology used within texts referring to people from Africa.

Comparative research studies have been conducted amongst others, for example between Germany and Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic and Germany, Italy and Spain (see Georg-EckertInstitute for International Textbook Research 2010b/ Studies).

According to her study, geography books used in Bavarian secondary schools during the school year 1990/1991, refer to Africans as “Neger”, “Schwarze”, “Eingeborene”, “Buschmänner” and “Hottentotten” (Guggeis 1991, pp.254-256).

Guggeis explains that all these terms are pejorative and carry negative connotations.

Furthermore, the study established that “auch inhaltlich in den Schulbüchern auf vielfältigste Weise ein unangemessenes und verzerrtes Bild vom subsaharischen Afrika und seinen Bewohnern vermittelt [wird]” [in terms of the schoolbook content in various ways an inappropriate and distorted image of sub-Saharan Africa and its people is being communicated] (ibid, p.259). According to the author, descriptions such as “wolliges Kraushaar, wulstig aufgeworfene Lippen, platte, breite Nase” [woolly frizzy hair, bulging, curled lips, flat, big nose] (ibid), found in some textbooks, contain a negative judgement of people from sub-Saharan Africa. The portrayal of Africans as an „inferior‟ people is also criticised. For example, in relation to where they reside, some are described as “hausen” as opposed to “wohnen” [live] (ibid, p.262). The term “hausen” is a pejorative term for „living‟ and carries connotations of being uncivilised (DWDS, date of publication not known). The study shows that the „other‟, who in this case is the African, is represented in textbooks in a rather negative way by means of language “based on colonial and discriminating concepts” (Guggeis 1991, p.251). The aspects of intercultural education have not been considered.

However, a change of approach with regard to the portrayal of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in the textbooks of Germany has been recognised by research carried out after the Kultusministerkonferenz (The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs) in 1996, which called for an examination and revision of curricula “unter dem Aspekt eines interkulturellen Perspektivwechsels” [from the angle of changing to an intercultural perspective] (Kultusministerkonferenz 1996, p.6) under which the „other‟ should not be marginalised or depicted in pejorative terms.

For example, the comparative study “Vom Umgang mit Verschiedenheit und Vielfalt.

Befunde aus deutschen und US-amerikanischen Schulbüchern” [The Handling of Difference and Diversity. Findings from German and US- American textbooks] by Verena Radkau (2004) uses “linguistic microanalysis” (p.301) to examine “the means by which the concept of the “foreigner” is articulated differently in both countries” (ibid). The study is set against the different migration histories and “diverging concepts of multiculturalism” (ibid). It focuses on history and politics textbooks for secondary schools. According to Radkau, the German textbooks “behandeln das umstrittene Thema explizit. Allerdings wird die “multikulturelle Gesellschaft” von vornherein als Problem präsentiert” [deal with the controversial theme explicitly. However, the “multicultural society” is presented from the outset as a problem.] (ibid, p.306). Furthermore, a separation of “we” and “they” becomes especially evident in assignments and questions where migrants, for example are referred to as “ausländische Mitbürger” [foreign fellow citizens] as opposed to “Bürger” [citizens] (ibid, p.307). Radkau points out that migrants in the textbooks

examined, are portrayed as objects, while the majority society represents the subject:

Aus dem Blickwinkel der Schulbücher werden Ausländer und Migranten in jedem Fall zum Objekt – unserer Neugier, unseres Mitleids, unserer Toleranz, unserer Solidarität, unserer Abneigung. Wenn sie überhaupt zu Worte kommen, werden sie zur Rede gestellt, müssen erklären, sich rechtfertigen (ibid).

[From the perspective of the schoolbooks foreigners and migrants in every case become the object – of our curiosity, of our pity, of our tolerance, of our solidarity, of our animosity. When they get to have a say, they are taken to task, they have to explain, they have to justify themselves.] People of Turkish origin are represented more often and are seen as a “Protoyp für Ausländer” [prototype for foreigners]. Additionally, the equation of Turkish and Muslim is usually implied according to Radkau‟s study (ibid).

The American textbooks examined by Radkau show a variety of approaches. While some call for the assimilation of migrants into the nation by learning the language of the majority and showing loyalty, other textbooks exhibit pluralism as “eine der möglichen Antworten auf kulturelle Vielfalt” [one possible answer to cultural diversity] (ibid, p.312). Mexican Americans are represented more often in the American textbooks.

Compared to Guggeis‟s study from 1991, Radkau‟s study shows that, although the textbooks examined in the German case did not fully meet the requests given by the Kultusministerkonferenz, a change of representation of the „other‟ could be observed.

Radkau (2004), for example, does not refer to negative descriptions of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ such as those in the case of the textbooks examined by Guggeis (1991). Thus, a shift from the portrayal of the „other‟ as inferior in textbooks of the 1980s to the presentation of the „other‟ as a problem and a victim in the late 1990s can be seen.

One of the most extensive textbook studies carried out in Germany is entitled “Bilder von Fremden. Was unsere Kinder aus Schulbüchern über Migranten lernen sollen” [Images of Foreigners. What our children should learn about migrants from schoolbooks]. It was conducted by Thomas Höhne, Thomas Kunz and Frank-Olaf Radke (2005). By means of analysing geography, history and social studies textbooks from all primary and secondary school types as well as social studies textbooks at primary school level in the Federal States of Hessen [Hesse] and Bayern [Bavaria], the authors sought to establish how migrants had been presented in textbooks since the 1980s and whether any changes in representation occurred during the 1990s (ibid, p.25). However, the researchers did not just analyse the representation of migrants in textbooks from 1981 to 1996, but were also interested in what a student would learn from that representation throughout his/ her school life. In order to establish the educational consequences, Höhne, Kunz and Radke reconstructed „virtual biographies‟ (German) of students and examined all geography, history and social study textbooks that a student would use from primary school level until the end of secondary school. They included “diejenigen Schulbücher in die Untersuchung [...], denen ein Schüler im Laufe seiner Schulzeit mit größter Wahrscheinlichkeit ausgesetzt war” [in the examination those schoolbooks which a student would have most likely encountered during his school life] (ibid, p.107). Furthermore, the authors compared the portrayal of migrants in textbooks to the curricula of Hesse and Bavaria and to “Formen der Migrantendarstellung in Massenmedien” [forms of migrant representation in the mass media] (ibid, p.591). The textbooks in both Federal States were analysed by means of Thematische Diskursanalyse [Thematic Discourse Analysis] (ibid, p.28), by which attributes that characterise the discourse of migrants in media, curricula and textbooks could be identified8.

According to the analysis by Höhne, Kunz and Radke, migrants in the textbooks examined, are “durchgängig als eigene Gruppe beschrieben [...], die der „nationalen deutschen Gemeinschaft‟ gegenüber gestellt wird” [consistently described as a separate group, which is set apart from that of the „national German community‟] (ibid, p.592). This division is mainly achieved through the basic comparison of


Im SLM-Diskurs [Schulbuch-, Lehrplan- und Mediendiskurs] über Migrantinnen bilden die beiden Differenzpaare wir/ sie und deutsch/ ausländisch die grundlegenden Unterscheidungen. Sie durchziehen ungebrochen und medienübergreifend den Migrantendiskurs und bilden in dem Sinne seine semantische Grundmatrix (ibid, p.598).

[The two differentiation pairs we/they and German/ foreign constitute the basic distinctions in the discourse about migrants found in textbooks, curricula and media. They (the differentiation pairs) traverse discourse on migrants continuously and across all media and in that sense form its semantic base matrix.] Furthermore, the authors described that other distinctions, such as “modern/ vormodern, hier/ dort und eigen/ fremd sowie türkisch als prototypisches Merkmal für „ausländisch‟” [modern/pre-modern, here/ there, own/ foreign as well as Turkish as a prototypical attribute of „foreign‟], were attached to the basic differentiations mentioned above (ibid). Based on the key distinction of „German‟ and „foreigner‟, Höhne, Kunz and Radke identified further categories which shape the discourse about migrants “wie „Nation‟, „Kultur‟, „Religion‟, „Modernität‟ und „Aussehen‟” [such as „nation‟, „culture‟, „religion‟, „modernity‟ and „appearance‟] (ibid, p.599).

Accordingly, the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is constructed by means of such categories (ibid), i.e., re-emerging characteristics in relation to the representation of migrants in textbooks and other media can be categorised under certain recurring themes.

Please refer to Chapter 4 on Methodology for information in relation to Thematic Discourse Analysis.

In terms of the representation of migrants the study observed that “sowohl in bayrischen wie auch in hessischen Schulbüchern [...] negative Darstellungen von Migranten in den meisten Sozialkundebüchern vorherrschen, da sie vorwiegend als sozialpolitisches Problem und Belastung geschildert werden” [negative representations of migrants are predominant in Bavarian as well as in Hessian schoolbooks, because migrants are mainly portrayed as a socio-political problem and a burden] (ibid, p.600). Additionally, migrant children in the textbooks examined were found to be presented as having language difficulties while the living situation of migrant families is often portrayed as problematic and negative (ibid, p.607).

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