Teaching Rival Histories: Pedagogical Responses to the History and Culture Wars

Editors: Robert J. Parkes (University of Newcastle, Australia), Monika Vinterek (Darlana University, Sweden), Anna Clark (University of Technology Sydney, Australia), & Henrik Åström Elmersjö (Umeå University, Sweden).

Project Description:
Educators have long been aware of the role that schools, and specific school subjects, play in nation-building, including the ways in which national consciousness is perceived to be shaped within the classroom. Inherently political, histories are frequently studied and taught in national categories; and history as a school subject is regularly an area of public debate, government disquiet, and a site of struggle over collective memory and cultural literacy. Because a nation’s history is always open to interpretation, many nations have, in recent times, been forced to rethink their past amidst competing interpretations, rival narratives, and revisionist histories. The emergence and recognition of counter-memories from indigenous, ethnic and national minorities, and sometimes regional neighbours, have interrupted the incontestability of the nation-building project, and debates over the national narrative have frequently led to very public skirmishes over what history is being taught in schools. In some nation-states these debates have become so intense that they have been described as history and culture wars.

While there are many books published on the topic of the history and culture wars, there has been relatively less attention to how teachers might response to the problem of teaching rival narratives or competing histories. Concerns seem to have stalled at the question of “whose history is being taught?” and have only rarely moved on to the question of “how do/could teachers engage with rival histories?” This edited volume is presented as a response to the second question, and serves as an intervention into the repetitive debate of the history and culture wars. This book will invite well-known and emerging scholars to contribute chapters that explore alternative approaches to teaching rival narratives. It aims to be a unique and important touchstone volume for history teachers and history teacher educators that can guide pedagogical engagement with rival histories.

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