07 SES 04 C, Literatur and Intercultural Education
Images play a special role in the representation of cultural diversity. In books as well as in digital formats, cultures and people(s) are described not only in words but also in pictures. The diversity of the world is presented in a colourful way. Nevertheless, the visual is also ambivalent. According to Hall (2007), it can carry positive and negative connotations. While the visual provides insights, it can also promote stereotypes and oppression.
This paper refers to representation theories of Cultural and Postcolonial Studies (e.g. Fabian 2014; Hall 2007; Zenker and Kumoll 2013). It argues that the reflection of representation is a relevant component of intercultural education. According to Gorski (2008), the good will of intercultural pedagogy is not enough, especially when there is no postcolonial deconstruction of hegemony. In a textbook analysis, Fougère and Moulettes (2011) demonstrated that a postcolonial deconstructive reading of descriptions of cultural diversity can reveal what is ambivalent or has been excluded. In her example of Australian learning materials, Knudsen (2012) argues that the representation of history can also depend on who writes and illustrates the materials: Different perspectives on “invasion” and “exploration” exist. The deconstructive approach asks who creates the intercultural learning materials and which voices and perspectives that were once left out or neglected can now be retrieved. Describing and illustrating intercultural encounters cannot do without questioning historical and political conditions. With regard to the colourful visual representations, one would have to ask who writes and draws and which power of definition from the past is repeated in the present. In this way, it can also be asked which (powerful) representations are circulating through learning materials.
With regard to ambivalent representational practices, this paper focuses on the goal of acquiring knowledge through intercultural children's non-fiction. The book market consists of a variety of book series that present cultural themes by discussing specific geographical spaces and their peoples and cultures through world atlases for children or through stories about world ‘explorers’, adventurers and scientists. The question is to what extent educational media tell a Eurocentric understanding of cultural history. Books that address the history of ‘exploration’, for example of ‘arrival and contact’, often address this topic over several pages. Many children's books correspond to a Eurocentric interpretation of history. If you write picture books, you have to compress, reduce and omit certain contents. Applying Hall`s theory (2007), children's non-fiction can also be seen as a fragment of a regime of representation. Authors must decide which voices and perspectives they take, what they omit, when they postulate truth, and how they try to show children the construction of world understandings. Books contain both essentialist and deconstructive representation strategies and correspond to a postcolonial framework.
In this respect, this paper addresses the following questions: (1) What can children learn about the historical event of ‘arrival and contact’ as well as about peoples past and present? (2) Which narrative techniques are used in children´s books to either convey a one-sided historical understanding or a multi-perspective one? This paper discusses the various forms of illustrative representation as a starting point for intercultural pedagogical reflection.
This research focuses on a media analysis of children's non-fiction books and other learning materials. The analysis develops an understanding of the representation of encounters, of landscape, persons and groups and discusses to what extend claims to truth arise through the omission of perspectives. This indicates how authors and illustrators, in a multitude of books, relate to a (Non-)Eurocentric reading of ‘exploration’ and ‘arrival and contact’. The corpus comprises publications by well-known publishers of children's books as well as widely accessible material found in public libraries. The current corpus consists of 30 books. It is a synchronous corpus containing materials from the German market. However, older, alternative and English-language materials are also used for contrast. First, the books were prepared for content analysis in order to find topics relevant for analysis. In addition to the topic of ‘arrival and contact’, the inclusion of voices and perspectives was an important category. Against this background, selected sequences were evaluated for discourse analysis (e.g. Bendel Larcher 2015). The example of the representation of ‘arrival and contact’ was analysed in a discourse analysis with regard to the framework of content, the excerpt, the composition and the modality. The comparison of the intercultural learning materials shows differences in texting and illustration which become relevant for a deconstruction of understandings and narrative strategies. The media analysis is part of an ethnographic (e.g. Davies 2010) study conducted by the University of Heidelberg. The research project was funded by PLACE, a funding programme for research in teacher education.
Children's non-fiction offers learners an easy-to-understand description and illustration of cultural topics. The variety of material shows not only intercultural relationships, past and present, but also the attempts of authors and illustrators to create a child-friendly representation appropriate for the historical complexity. Contrary to the argument that the non-fiction books cannot take serious and complex interrelations sufficiently into account, the analysis shows a variation of representation practices and thus possibilities. Some deconstructive invocations can be seen in the following examples: History told from different perspectives, protagonists speaking, dialogue between persons and groups being shown, simple deconstructive writing styles, ironic cartoons being inserted. However, media analysis also describes essentialist forms of representation when the ‘explorers’ are shown as heroic figures who have brought political, economic and scientific advantages. Here the voices of the others disappear from the text. They also reappear in the present as people of the past. Against the background of Cultural and Postcolonial Studies, the intercultural educational media will be discussed with regard to the possibilities of democratizing knowledge, which shows variations in both content and form of representation. This also creates an access to representation theory for teacher training. Teachers can thus see their own participation in the act of representation. It matters, what they include and what the leave out. The media reception of the intercultural illustrated books is currently investigated in other research activities as well.
Bendel Larcher, S. (2015). Linguistische Diskursanalyse: Ein Lehr- und Arbeitsbuch. Tübingen: Narr. Davies, C. A. (2010). Reflexive Ethnography: A guide to researching selves and others. (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. Fabian, J. (2014). Time and the other: How anthropology makes its objects. Columbia University Press. Fougère, M., & Moulettes, A. (2011). Disclaimers, dichotomies and disappearances in international business textbooks: A postcolonial deconstruction. Management Learning, 43, 5-24. Gorski, P. C. (2008). Good intentions are not enough: A decolonizing intercultural education. Intercultural Education, 19 (6). Hall, S. (2007). The spectacle of the ‘other’. In S. Hall (Ed.), Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices (2nd ed.). London: Sage. Knudsen, S. V. (2012). Views and voices: indigenous people in Australian teaching and learning materials 2000-2011. IARTEM e-Journal, 5(1), 1-21. Zenker, O., & Kumoll, K. (Eds.). (2013). Beyond writing culture: Current intersections of epistemologies and representational practices. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.
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