«Lite med europeisk overlegenhet å gjøre» Fremstillinger av den islamske verdens og Europas middelalderhistorie i norske lærebøker for grunnskolen og videregående etter Kunnskapsløftet
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This master thesis analyses portrayals of medieval history in contemporary Norwegian textbooks for elementary school and high school. Specifically, the object for the analysis is the portrayal of western history in the middle ages, and the history of the Islamic world in the same time period. “Western” history here refers to those parts of the book which are concerned with European history in general, and not those chapters specifically about Norwegian history. These portrayals are then contrasted and compared, and a specific chapter is dedicated to the most inconspicuous differences in how these subjects are portrayed. Each book gets its own subchapter, where I first analyze its portrayal of Islamic history in the middle ages (if applicable, as some books omit this subject entirely) and then its portrayal of western history. There is a summary written for each book, where I categorize the depictions of western and Islamic history. I have analyzed 6 books for high school and 3 books for elementary school, all produced after the Norwegian education reform of 2006 (LK06). This constitutes the vast majority of school history textbooks for regular education produced in the post-reform period and is therefore representative for contemporary school textbooks as a whole. To categorize and analyze the portrayals I rely heavily on the concept of “four stories of the middle ages”, as presented in Leidulf Melve’s 2016 book “Hva er middelalderen” (“What is the middle ages”). He asserts that there’s, roughly speaking, four ways in which the medieval period has been written about (and is being written about). The borders between these ways of presenting the middle ages are of course rather loose, and these “four stories of the middle ages” are presented in their own subchapter. The findings of this thesis are clear: There is a pronounced difference in the way western and Islamic history in the middle ages are being portrayed. This difference persists, in varying degrees, across all of the textbooks analyzed in this thesis. The difference is mostly concerned with how historical events are being portrayed, but also in what’s being included and omitted from the narrative. In general, there’s an overemphasis on problematic aspects of western history, while there’s a prevalent omission of problematic aspects within Islamic history. This can be exemplified by, for instance, the findings from chapter 4.1. Here I count all references to mass slaughter within the 9 textbooks’ chapters on medieval history, finding 25 such references within western history in the medieval period, and 0 such references within Islamic history. These almost exclusively refer to events in which Jews, Muslims or heretics were the victims, and Christian Europeans the perpetrators. Chapter 4 highlights more such pronounced differences between the portrayals.