The construction of the ‘national survival’ and the ‘intercultural education’ discourses
: an ethnographic perspective of a Greek Cypriot lower secondary school

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

The present study examines the formulation of the ‘national survival’ and the ‘intercultural education’ discourses by teachers and students of Year 10 in a public lower secondary school of the Republic of Cyprus. I adopt the ‘national survival’ discourse to examine the wider ideologies of the notion of nationhood in the Greek Cypriot sociohistorical context, which have been infused in the educational structure through a series of policies. The ‘intercultural education’ discourse refers to the policies circulated by the Ministry of Education and Culture, aiming to promote cultural diversity in the Republic’s educational system, mainly formed after its accession to the EU. This research is a discursive ethnographic case study whereby I examine how these discourses are enacted in classroom practices, using multiple methods of data collection, i.e. participant observations, interviews, focus group discussions, and educational documents. The analysis identifies a conflictual relationship between the ‘national survival’ and the ‘intercultural education’ discourses on policy level, which is subsequently enacted in the school setting. I show how the ‘national survival’ discourse in the interpretation of Cyprus’ modern history events adopted by teachers and students, promotes a sense of nostalgia that idealises the past and remembers a home that is no longer compatible with today’s perspectives. I also describe how this discourse maintains and perpetuates constructions of Turks and Turkish Cypriots as ‘national others’. Through a moment-to-moment analysis of teachers’ pedagogical strategies, though, the findings show alternative avenues for constructing a sense of national identity, which provide a space for critical enquiry and for challenging national narratives. The study demonstrates how the ‘intercultural education’ discourse is produced in classroom interactions, when discussing the European Migrant Crisis as well as notions associated with peace and war. I argue that a ‘cosmetic’ construction of ‘intercultural education’ permeates in the school context, since alongside, the ‘national survival’ discourse promotes a military spirit and nationalist perspectives. The findings bear implications for policy and practice in terms of curriculum transformation, in-service development and engagement with students’ views.
Date of Award1 May 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSimon Coffey (Supervisor) & Anwar Tlili (Supervisor)

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