Education and national identities
Ana Lúcia dos Reis (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa)
B1 0.03
Thursday 18 July, 9:30-11:00, 14:30-16:00

Short abstract:

How is national identity and cultural identity formed? What evolving role has education been playing in nation building? This panel proposes a pluralistic discussion on the construction of national and cultural identities and how education can be instrumental to that effect.

Long abstract:

Duing the European colonization in Africa, education played an important role as a means of subjugation of the colonized. It promoted a sense of superiority and valorisation of the white, European and predominantly Catholic culture and identity that would find resistance within the local communities. In some cases, the imbalance of power between the cultures of the colonizer and the colonized led to the deprecation (and in some cases disappearance) of languages, cultures and traditions. Even after these countries' independence, this effect persisted, occasionally in the form of a sort of fascination, not always conscious, with the culture of the colonizer and consequent depreciation of local cultures. The process of forging a cultural and national identity is not linear or consensual, and the way education interferes - and whether or not it should interfere in this process - is highly debatable, raising a series of relevant questions. This panel suggests an analysis of the progressive africanization of the Portuguese-speaking African countries' identities, linked to the role education had in the building of these nations. Furthermore, the panel proposes a reflection on cultural and national identity: What defines national identity and cultural identity? Can they be forged? And if so how do they evolve? Should we rethink the concepts of cultural identity and national identity?