Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Curricular conflicts through/for a conflict-sensitive context: citizenship education amidst European education discourses in Cyprus

Presenter: Dr. Stavroula Philippou
Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2018
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Rm 342AB

This talk considers curriculum as a political text, focusing especially on the tensions, paradoxes and gaps produced as local, national and supranational forces compete and conglomerate in its constant formation. More particularly, it focuses on the case of European education discourses, as produced mainly by the EU and the Council of Europe, and on their re-contextualisation when introduced at the local-state level in Cyprus over the last 30 years. Yet the talk begins by acknowledging the historicity of such processes: though first mass school curricula have been historically mobilized to construct a sense of (modern) national identity and economic subjectivity, their widespread mobilization around the world and their gradual sedimentation in particular national yet recognizable forms was facilitated by global circumstances and agendas— namely, imperialism and colonialism in the case of Cyprus. Through the example of citizenship education, the talk then considers some of the challenges which emerge when official school curricula, historically produced for nation-building purposes, are re-viewed as significant in fostering inter- or even trans-national connections in contexts such as Cyprus, a young state and EU member, a divided country, a post-colonial and conflict-sensitive context in the Eastern Mediterranean wherein curricula and the teaching profession have historically been intensely political. It is argued that though initially European education discourses were introduced as in harmony rather than as in competition with ethnocentric narratives of (Greek)Cypriot identity and citizenship, they have more recently been gravitating towards notions of health, safety and responsibility as related to the economy, which in effect 'empty' curricular notions of citizenship from both national/ethnocentric as well as social and political contents and render it a mechanism of self-governance. However, at the same time these discourses have created conditions through which unexpected openings in discussing identity, conflict, reconciliation and Europe have emerged and which perhaps produce possibilities for self-governing differently. To illustrate curriculum as ‘unfinalised and unfinalisable work’ examples will mainly be drawn from citizenship, social studies and health education curricula as well as policies and practices emerging/enabled though European institutional and non-institutional frameworks in Cyprus.