Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, Vol 9, No 2 (2015)

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Racism in the teaching of ‘development’ in German secondary school textbooks

Elina Marmer, Aram Ziai


The paper analyzes German social science textbooks commonly used in secondary schools (ages twelve to eighteen). The analysis shows that the ‘developing world’, and especially ‘Africa’ are often constructed as a place of inferiority, an antithesis to the ‘West’, devoid of history and progress and is therefore essentially based on the same premise as colonial racism. Critical discourse analysis of texts, images and contexts reveals how those constructs are embedded in the representations and explanations of global inequalities. Textbook authors need to critically engage with their underlying assumptions and the dominant perspectives of ‘development’ as well as to introduce racism and eurocentrism as topics of political education.

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Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices is a non-commercial initiative committed to the ethical dissemination of academic research and educational thinking. CLTP acknowledges the thoughtful dedication of authors, editors and reviewers to develop and promote this open journal initiative. The journal receives copy-editing sponsorship from the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu, Finland. CLTP has previously received  copy editing support from the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham, UK.