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Middlebury College

Publication Date

Fall 2005

Program Name

The Balkans: Gender, Transformation, and Civil Society


History instruction is a means of disseminating political and cultural “truth” in societies all over the world. History occupies only a small space in the educational schemes that socialize and politicize children to their societies, but it could be argued that it plays a disproportionate role in these processes. In societies with contentious historical records and/or histories of conflict, it is particularly important to examine the role that history instruction does in fact play, as it can have positive or disastrous consequences over the long term. Serbian society provides one example of the potential effects of incomplete, politically influenced historical education. To date, the state exercises a great deal of control over the curricula and textbooks in primary and secondary schools in Serbia, and continues to promote a nationalistic view of history, first inserted in texts and curricula during the 1990s conflict and Milošević’s regime. The Ministry launched a brief period of reform in 2000, which was halted and only recently restarted at a much slower pace. In the place of comprehensive institutional reform, several organizations have launched alternatives that attempt to deal with these issues. The Association for Social History - EUROCLIO, the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, the Council of Europe, and the Petnica Scientific Center, are each attacking the problem in their own ways, promoting teacher training, the creation of alternative materials, and/or alternative programs for interested, intelligent students. They are making headway, as the ministerial efforts proceed slowly.


Education | History | Public Policy


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