Nationalism Vs. Cosmopolitanism: Postcolonial Interpretation of Identity in Mass Education

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Riad NASSER, Fairleigh Dickinson University, USA
This study focuses on role of post-colonial state-commissioned mass education system in the process of identity formation of co-nationals and citizens under state sovereignty.  It asks whether education does or does not promote civil society and universal values of inclusion compatible with current modes of cosmopolitan identities, driven by globalization.

In my conceptualization, the use of the term “civil society” is used in its broadest sense to include universal and cosmopolitan identities. It views all cultures as equally important to human civilization. As a result, "Identity beyond Borders," is attempting at unpacking the process of collective-national identity formation. It assumes that identities are developed in the dialectic between sameness and difference, where difference turns into hierarchy in which "we" - the people- is defined against an external "Other." Therefore, the study analyzes how state-commissioned education textbooks deal with the process of identity formation, and the relationship between the particular and the universal.

The study analyzes history, geography, and civic studies school textbooks currently used in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, and analyzes how these national narratives -- particularly, myth of origins -- is constructed, and the ways by which national identities are formed. It also draws upon similar studies covering cases from Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Latin America.

Theoretically, the study adds significantly to our understanding of political socialization and the role of the nation-state educational system in the production of collective identities. Postcolonial theories have been very critical of the project of Enlightenment and its failed emergence form of the nation-state system as a universal system of organization of world societies. Importantly, postcolonial theories ask whether the recent waves of globalization mark the return of neocolonialism in the form of cultural, economic, and political domination of the west over postcolonial societies in rest of the world.