Racism and the Image of Africa in German Schools and Textbooks

By Elina Marmer, Dalia Marmer, Leona Hitomi and Papa Sow.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Poverty, violence and underdevelopment are the prevailing images of Africa in German history and geography textbooks. Pre-colonial African history, African culture and philosophy are not covered by Eurocentric curricula. Classic and modern western literature is interspersed with stereotypes about African people; these stereotypes often pass uncommented by the teachers. As one of the results, students of African descent and their parents commonly experience racism in schools expressed by the fellow students and teachers. The students of African descent are labelled naturally “lazy”, “wild” and “needy”; they are rather expected to excel in sports and music than in science and philosophy, and are undervalued accordingly. In a longitudinal case study, the main project investigates the relationship between the portrayal of Africa in educational context and these racial prejudices. The project anticipates to revise textbooks and curriculum in this regard, to create new un-biased teaching materials on Africa and to test them in real school lessons. The current paper presents the results of an empirical pilot study conducted with 10-17 year old students in a Hamburg school on their image of Africa. The survey showed that the interviewed students see Africa predominantly as an “exotic” and/or hopeless and violent place; this view is consistent with the one presented in their textbooks. Alongside with these racial stereotypes, students’ answers contained names of their classmates of African descent.

Keywords: Africa, Racism, Education, Textbooks and Images, Ethnic Minorities

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 686.654KB).

Dr. Elina Marmer

Universitaet Hamburg, Varese, Germany

Dalia Marmer

Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

Leona Hitomi

Leuphana Universitaet Lueneburg, Lueneburg, Germany

Dr. Papa Sow

Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK


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