Call for papers

International symposium

Human and cultural exchanges in Mediterranean textbooks

Montpellier, France, November 12th-14th, 2009

An international and interdisciplinary symposium

- The symposium will involve all countries in the Mediterranean basin (within the framework of the Barcelona Process – Union for the Mediterranean). Other countries may be associated, if they have proven to have done substantial work on issues related to textbooks.
- Textbooks of all academic disciplines are concerned, and can be considered through different research areas : history, didactics, discourse analysis, political science, anthropology, etc.


- Scanning the field of study of textbooks in Mediterranean countries, with the notion of exchanges as a main theme of investigation, which therefore can lead to a wide range of questions. Each theme that will be examined may be subjected to further development in future symposiums.
- Establishing a network of researchers (in which practitioners and decision makers can be included as well), from all fields at first. The structuring of this network will occur during the symposium.
- Beginning to create a double database for researchers and textbooks, and a website for discussion, hosted by the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Montpellier (MSH-Montpellier). The symposium language is mainly French. Translations in English and Arabic may be organised punctually.


The current attention that is paid to the Mediterranean leads to encourage all actions that aim at establishing relationships and improving mutual knowledge and understanding between cultures.
- The Mediterranean region, thanks to its exceptional human and cultural mixing and to its very ancient cultural richness, constitutes the specific field of study of the MSH-Montpellier, whose work is promised to a brilliant scientific and political future.
- The research teams in charge of the project already have a long experience working with Mediterranean countries : research, expertise, education, PhD supervising, etc. Two of them belong to the MSH-Montpellier, one to the MSH in Aix-en-Provence, one to the MSH-Lille. @ DIDAXIS Team - part of DIPRALANG EA 739 – has especially been involved in textbooks studies since 1995, within the framework of the MSH’s Cultural alterities studies and in relationship with other French and foreign teams. It relies on the History of Education Research and Resources Centre (CEDRHE – IUFM Montpellier II), which contains about 20.000 old school textbooks and more than 30.000 other pedagogical documents stored on database. @ Aix-en-Provence MSH’s IREMAM Team (Arab and Muslim World Research Centre) has been well-known for a long time now for its work on the Mediterranean region. @ ELIGES Team (Gender and Society Studies Lille Team) do many studies on social and gender relations and some searchers are involved in a Texbook Research International Program.

Why examine textbooks ?

School textbooks can be considered as one of the discourse types in which the dynamics of representations, as constructed during the colonial and national past, appear in a clearer way. Thereby they enable one to have a more acute vision of contemporary changes, since most of the Mediterranean Northern and Southern countries have already begun reviewing pedagogical material in order to clear it from certain stereotypes. In many disciplines, textbooks remain a teaching resource that cannot be ignored. They also represent a relevant element in the construction of knowledge and representations among pupils and teachers. They depend on a specific pedagogical culture in each country, which is related to other cultural areas. As a matter of fact, they can be seen as a way towards integration at school and in society. All these considerations make them complex objects, with many issues, and that may explain how they have become such controversial targets in some eras and places (within the same country or between different countries). Thus, many current textbooks, both in the North and in the South, exemplify visions of a “national identity” that underestimate the plurality of references and the feelings of belonging to a social group. In addition, didactical issues – related to the issues we mentioned before and considered as the selection of knowledge and the way it is transmitted to pupils – are more difficult to distinguish. In each discipline, a textbook tends to present strong methodological directions/orientations, depending on a “pedagogical philosophy” that can change according to time and country. What is at stake thus is a very important educational issue – as the textbook carries national values, it can trigger empathic or rejecting behaviours towards other peoples and cultures. It also provides invaluable help in recognizing universal values and human rights. Finally, thinking about textbooks allows us to outline a pedagogy based on the pluralism that is typical of the Mediterranean space. Sometimes referred to as « cross-cultural didactics », it can also be referred to as « didactics of openness to others ». The purpose of the symposium is precisely to find out how textbooks reflect or imply exchanges between human groups, nations and cultures, in all Mediterranean countries.


Topic 1. Representing the relationships to others from colonial times to the contemporary Mediterranean.
In particular, relationships between countries as they appear in Mediterranean textbooks can be examined : historical relationships (colonization for example), social relationships (migrations, crossings, etc.), and political relationships.

Topic 2. The Mediterranean : common or divided space ?
How do textbooks of each country represent other countries, if they do so : physical and human country as geography, climate, populations, languages, important events, etc. For instance, is there a global vision/conception of the Mediterranean space, or a partial vision, or a vision only centred on the country itself ?

Topic 3. Presenting or representing unity and diversity in social relationships
How does each country represent itself and diversity or hierarchy between its human groups and cultures in its textbooks ? What do textbooks tell us about social relationships ? How does a country represent other countries in that regard ? Further, questioning gender in those relations can be considered as relevant, analyzing the representations of masculine and feminine genders ; for instance, which statuses and roles are assigned to both. In the same way, religions, school or associations could be examined.

Topic 4. Textbooks as generating exchanges :
= How to create a network on textbooks ?
-  What are the ways of production of textbooks ?
-  How would it be possible to help methods of conservation and filing for those books ?
-  How to put in common bibliographical data ? What online resources are available ?


Organization committee

- DIPRALANG, EA 739, MSH-Montpellier et Montpellier III : - Pierre BOUTAN, Bruno MAURER, Michèle VERDELHAN
- IREMAM, MSH-Aix : Jean-Robert HENRY
- Paul SIBLOT. PRAXILING, MSH-Montpellier
- ELIGES, MESHS Lille Nord de France Nord : Sylvie CROMER, Lille 2
- Help for secretariat : Amandine DENIMAL, PhD Student, DIPRALANG.

Scientific committee

Constitution in progress. It will be composed of European and non-European personalities from all the countries surrounding the Mediterranean.



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