London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Coping with the uncomfortable past: a comparative analysis of the teaching of World War II and the role of historical education in the construction of a "European" identity.

Author(s) Aristotle A Kallis  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 1999  
Editor Alistair Ross, Young Citizens in Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
Comments: The paper explores how past events of pan-European significance are reconstructed in the national education curricula of individual European countries. World War II is used as a case study because of both its relevance to European collective memory and its potential to fuel nationalist clichés in the countries involved. The paper examines how the war is portrayed in secondary education, how it is justified and explained, how the role of each country is discussed and how the conflict is related to present developments. Despite some increase in dispassionate narrative, the common European past is still viewed primarily from the viewpoint of national history. Many events are explained in terms of long-term ?just? nationalist aspirations, reflecting a constant obsession with specific national myths. The paper will indicate how historical education can construct shared values and identities in a united Europe, but will also underscore the primacy of the ?national? ove! r the ?international/collective?, which may deter attempts of European institutions to promote a ?civic? notion of citizenship and belonging.

Back to search results


   Page last updated 09 March 2011