A Shared European History? : Perceptions of Imperialism and Islam in Matriculation Examination Essays and History Textbooks

Show full item record


Title: A Shared European History? : Perceptions of Imperialism and Islam in Matriculation Examination Essays and History Textbooks
Author: Herlin, Anna K.
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Politiikan ja talouden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för politik och ekonomi
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2011
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201703271749
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Political History
Poliittinen historia
Politisk historia
Abstract: The European Union (EU) is faced with a continuous decrease in public support. There is a tension between the growing Euroscepticism and the concurrent academic discourse of a shared European identity. Informed and inspired by the current debates, this Master’s Thesis investigates the potential of a shared past to create shared identity. It also addresses the logic of cultural exclusion that is often connected to collective cultural identities. The source material is a combination of exam essays, written as answers to the history tests in the Finnish matriculation examinations of 2005-2008, and upper secondary school history textbooks. From the sources, current perceptions of Islam (as Europe’s Other) and the age of imperialism (as a debated period from Europe’s past) among the youth are studied. Through the analysis the thesis aims to indicate the level of consensus within the pupils’ identification with the past and with Europe. This objective is pursued through examining the pupils’ perceptions of Europe’s past and its relationship to non-European cultures and countries as they are manifested in the essays, and reflecting upon the level of influence that history textbooks as representatives of national hegemonic historical narratives might have on the contents, framings and emphases with and through which the pupils approach, imagine, and reproduce Europe’s past. The approach is based on previous research on the presence of history and the field of textbook research. The theoretical categories with which the sources are analyzed are derived primarily from literature on identity, European integration, history and memory, postcolonial criticism, and theorizations of European identity. Results of the research project suggest that the rhetoric of European superiority, despite its apparent demise, still resonates in contemporary understandings of Europeanness. Dominant perceptions of imperialism comprise of European agency and colonial submission, dominant perceptions of the Islamic world of fundamental difference. Identification with European history among the Finnish youth is rather shallow when examined through perceptions of imperialism; the Islamic world is perceived as Other and its representations are dominated by recent and contemporary international relations.

Files in this item

Total number of downloads: Loading...

Files Size Format View
A Shared Europe ... ESIS w abstract HERLIN.pdf 718.8Kb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record