The question of whether the German-Herero War (1904-1907) may be called a genocide has been debated in German politics for over twenty years. This article explores the representations of this event in German history textbooks in the context of this ongoing debate. Textbooks are not merely the end product of a negotiation process. Rather, as media and objects of memory politics, they are part of a societal negotiation process to determine relevant knowledge. Changes made to textbooks in relation to this controversial topic take place in very short periods of time and often go beyond what appears to meet with mutual agreement in the political sphere.
The German-Herero War in Politics and Textbooks
Two Case Studies of (Grand) Narratives from and of the German Democratic Republic in Current Oberstufe Textbooks
Elizabeth Priester Steding
Much like history textbooks, literature textbooks produce a grand narrative, telling a nation's story via its literature. This article examines the presentation of literature of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in upper level secondary school (Oberstufe) textbooks published in Germany in 2009 and 2010. Twenty years after German unification, literature textbooks are largely divided into two groups in accordance with their handling of literature from the failed socialist state: some focus on ideological criticism of the GDR, and some choose to avoid politics as much as possible. Both options result in a simplistic, even reductionist (grand) narrative of GDR literature. Case studies on Christa Wolf and Günter Grass reveal a consistent, positive portrayal of West German literature and a polarized representation of GDR literature.
Space, Perspective, and Critical Research Skills
This article investigates the potential of one of the most contested and debated spaces of German Studies research, the Postdamer Platz in Berlin, as an interactive "textbook." By employing the notion of "play" the areas around the commercialized Postdamer Platz can be "read" and explored as contradictory, chaotic, messy, and haunted by ghosts of the past, despite—or possibly amplified by—the newly constructed, glossy surfaces of global media and capitalism that form a center for the German capital. I consider the subversive possibilities as well as the limits of this playful approach to teaching, exploring, and learning about commercialized urban centers in the twenty-first century.
In this article, I explore the dominant narratives about Islam in German history textbooks from the eighteenth century until the present day. I thereby deconstruct a longue durée script with a rather curious pattern. Until the 1980s, textbook narratives about Islam were rooted exclusively in people's historical imagination. Only when the children of Turkish workers entered the classroom did textbook authors try to accommodate knowledge based on real encounters. By addressing the di erent stages of this longue durée script, I enquire into the functions of narratives as they underpinned a German and European "we."
*Full text is in German
National Socialism in German, Austrian and English Secondary School Textbooks (1980–2017)
This article analyzes a selection of German, Austrian and English textbooks dealing with National Socialism. By adopting Waltraud Schreiber’s methodology of categorial textbook analysis, the article presents the surface structure and building blocks as a basis for further analysis. The occurrence (or absence) of the pedagogical historical principle of multiperspectivity is examined with reference to the example of sections concerning “Youth in National Socialism.” Subsequently, the study explores the role of multiperspectivity in the construction of critical historical consciousness. This is followed by a deconstruction of the image of women presented in the textbooks, with particular emphasis on simplifications.
Die Analyse von Schulbüchern aus Deutschland, Österreich und England zum Themenbereich Nationalsozialismus stehen im Zentrum dieses Artikels. Als Methodologie wird die kategoriale Schulbuchanalyse nach Waltraud Schreiber angewandt. Die Erarbeitung der Oberflächenstruktur und der Bausteine werden als Grundlage für weitere Analyseschritte präsentiert. Das (Nicht-) Vorkommen des bedeutenden geschichtsdidaktischen Prinzips der Multiperspektivität wird am Beispiel des Abschnittes „Jugend im Nationalsozialismus“ beschrieben. Multiperspektivität und deren Bedeutung für den Aufbau eines kritischen Geschichtsbewusstseins wird in einem weiteren Schritt hervorgehoben. Abschließend wird das in den Schulbüchern präsentierte Frauenbild dekonstruiert und auf die problematischen Vereinfachungen hingewiesen.
On Reproducing, Destabilizing and Interrupting Majority Memories
Johanna Ahlrichs, Katharina Baier, Barbara Christophe, Felicitas Macgilchrist, Patrick Mielke, and Roman Richtera
This article draws on memory studies and media studies to explore how memory practices unfold in schools today. It explores history education as a media- saturated cultural site in which particular social orderings and categorizations emerge as commonsensical and others are contested. Describing vignettes from ethnographic fieldwork in German secondary schools, this article identifies different memory practices as a nexus of pupils, teachers, blackboards, pens, textbooks, and online videos that enacts what counts as worth remembering today: reproduction; destabilization without explicit contestation; and interruption. Exploring mediated memory practices thus highlights an array of (often unintended) ways of making the past present.
An Historical Approach
Tom Verschaffel and Kaat Wils
The political use and instrumentalization of history is a central theme within the historiography of history education. Neither history nor education is a politically neutral domain; history education is and has always been a highly politicized phenomenon. For his recent article on the development of history education in England, Germany, and the Netherlands throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Dutch history didactician Arie Wilschut chose the significant title, “History at the Mercy of Politicians and Ideologies.” History education, Wilschut argues, has, in all three countries, continually—with a short break in the 1960s and 1970s—been instrumentalized by national politics to the detriment of unbiased interpretations of the past.
Issues and Methodologies toward a School Historiography
Maria Repoussi and Nicole Tutiaux-Guillon
This article traces the developments within history textbook research as presented at the 2009 conference of the International Society for History Didactics (ISHD), held in cooperation with the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig, Germany. The article claims that significant developments reveal school historiography to be a challenged area for history didactics. Key concepts and theoretical frames require further discussion in order to develop history didactics not only as an area for social and political responsibilities but also as a theoretical discipline.
The establishment of the humanities and social sciences in Germany was closely connected with the emergence and legitimization of the nation-state. Geography and history were in particular supposed to assume a legitimizing function; consequently, a
This article argues that the symbolic borders of Europe and the existence of external Others have been at times more important than Europe's center or its actual physical boundaries, especially during the first decades after the foundation of the European Communities. Analyzing textual and visual sources taken from some ninety French, Italian, and German history textbooks published between 1950 and 2005, the various sequences in which European integration has been constructed are highlighted. Communism, the first external Other, provided the first minimum common denominator for a nascent political Europe. It was not until the end of the Cold War that a projection of a distinct European identity appeared. Nevertheless, the role of new external Other(s) remains important for the evolution of the discourse of a European identity. This article draws attention to the Others, seeking to embed the Others' perspective in narratives of Europe.