Maya Van Nuys

Mentor: Brian Lagotte, Assistant Teaching Professor, Global and International Studies

The Modern Mission Civilisatrice: Cultural Representations in French History Textbooks

The research project asks what secondary school French history textbooks published between 2014 and 2018 indicate about contemporary French integration strategies. The project contributes to previous literature on the role of education, and particularly textbooks, in promoting national identity by exploring the role of French history textbooks in immigrant integration. Postcolonial theory helps explain how former colonial governments use cultural representations in education to maintain preferred representations of national culture and to integrate non-native citizens. The French government chooses history textbooks with French cultural representations stressing national unity over discord by promoting the study of objective history over the conflicting historical memories of different social groups. As such, textbooks operate as assimilation tools, attempting to integrate immigrants and non-native ethnic groups into the French state by promoting an overarching and unifying national historical memory. However, the promotion of national unity in textbooks may serve to prevent immigrant integration, as textbooks largely ignore the crimes of France in French colonies and the contributions of French colonial subjects and peoples to France’s history.

Major: Global and International Studies/Peace and Conflict Studies
Study Abroad: France



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