What Produces a History Textbook?
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CitationChughtai, Mariam. 2015. What Produces a History Textbook?. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIn this dissertation, I undertake a sequential analysis of an elaborate system of forces that contribute to the production of history textbooks in Pakistan. I review longitudinal series of data on education policies and history textbooks from 1938-2012, and examine the decision-making processes, which inform said policies and textbooks, at the federal, provincial and local levels of government in Pakistan. My analysis is grounded in a particular understanding of religious nationalism and identity politics which is essential in conceptualizing religious political extremism and its role in defining what it means to be “Islamic” in context of history education in Pakistan.
Findings suggest that a history textbook in Pakistan is produced by seven highly influential and complex variables: (1) Religious ideology: religious ideological direction set through federal education policy, and the international pressures and domestic political events that inform this policy; (2) Identity politics: the scope of identity that the state mandates for its citizens, including the resistance to that scope as captured by student interaction with textbook content; (3) Military revisionism: war narratives and the state’s reconciliation with its past; (4) Political power: perceptions, leadership, and exclusionary tactics; (5) Financial vulnerabilities; (6) Systemic inefficiencies; and (7) Past history textbooks, in how they empower certain interest groups which inhibit curriculum development and revised conceptions of history.
My analysis reveals that while state sponsored curriculum material is used for the purpose of solidifying the relationship between religion and state, the content, the process, and the constantly shifting narrative of religious nationalism, selected from a multitude of narratives, are products of strategic choices that may well employ religion but are not entirely religiously motivated. Consequently, I propose the possibility that history education in Pakistan does not foster religious nationalism for the sake of religion, but uses religion as one tool amongst many, to further secular, political, and nationalistic objectives.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16461056