Structuring the Past as a Determinant of The Future: Critical and Comparative Analysis of Cyprus’ History Textbooks

Asist. Prof. Dr., Girne American University, Faculty of Humanities, Northern Cyprus


Problem statement: During the study, it’s presumed that despite sharing the same past, in the process of making different histories, the construction of the ‘I’ and the ‘Other’ may change via the knowledge that is legitimated through the changing contexts (Akter, 2013). Thus, the problem statement of the study is constructed upon the argument whether missing or misleading information related to the past, as well as contents and contexts of the texts may cause a knowledge gap with respect to each other or not.

Purpose of the study: The purpose of the study, is to examine history textbooks of secondary schools, the power of the structured languages, and hence the ‘contexts’ of the written materials in the ‘construction of knowledge’ process. In other words, to show ‘how to know what we know’ and ‘how to be sure whether the knowledge that we have is ours or ‘the one that is naturalized as if it’s ours’ is the purpose of the study.

Method: Relational content analysis was the method of the study.

Findings and Result: In principle, research findings were categorized regarding to the frequency of pages, titles, subtitles, usage of background colours and their relationship with the contents. In general, it’s noted that content of Cyprus History textbooks that are studied in Northern Cyprus and Southern Cyprus were not equivalent, background colors of books, especially the one that was studied in Northern part of the island was reflecting the ideology of the government at that time. There was a knowledge gap between the contents of the books and manipulative discourses and representations as well as visual materials were also takes attention regarding to the ideology of the governments.

Conclusion and Recommendation: During the present study, regarding to the changing governments and ideologies, differentiation at construction of past was noticed. ‘Absolute’ past was reflected from different aspects, information was constructed through the ideology of the dominant parties at that time. Different understandings about educational paradigms were shown via method of reflection of past, discourse which was used and also different expectations about the future of the island were drawn.

Key words: Writing history, context, construction of knowledge, knowledge gap, and the past.