Cooperation with Central Asia in the field of textbooks

The long Soviet and Russian dominance of the region and its central position between Europe and Asia leads us to question how the modernisation of education is influenced by processes of nation building in an era of political and economic cooperation within macro regions and in an age of globalisation, and in particular what effects this has upon historical, political and geographic education:

  • Does it necessarily produce a retarding momentum within a nation state in the sense of ‘catch-up development’? or
  • Can it bring about the construction of new national education programmes serving the construction of a national consciousness in geography, history, social studies and associated subjects, that aspire to connect with secular education and that base their objectives and methods on international standards?
  • What role do references to the expansion of Europe play and how significant is the fact that the countries of southeast and eastern Asia have demonstrated extraordinarily rapid economic development within very different political systems?

The question of how the Soviet period is perceived is pivotal to the concept of modern and contemporary history. Whilst it acted as the driver and provided the framework for the emergence of comparative autonomy it shackled national self-awareness:

  • To what extent can post-colonial or modernisation theory approaches be applied in order to connect the ‘foreign domination’ of the past with current national development and trans-regional interrelations?
  • Similarly, of what significance is the fact that the population of the region is overwhelmingly Muslim? This religious orientation is subordinate to the socialist state ideology but not supressed by it.
  • Is it possible to ensure religious freedom whilst also incorporating it into a secular state and education framework and, where necessary, ‘taming’ fundamentalist currents?

The project analysed five countries with the following objectives:

  1. To gather data and record relationships in order to gain a deeper understanding of the region’s education policy upheavals, political restructuring, and cultural and social context;
  2. Discuss new concepts for geographical, historical and social studies depictions of the processes of decolonisation, nation-building and modernisation in the region and of European integration and increased global cooperation with regional partners. This study will investigate the significance of the awareness of self and others in Germany and Europe as well as in Central Asia.

Cooperative partners

  • Respective national academic institutions involved in textbook development.

Project duration

  • 2009-2011


  •  Research report
  • Internationale Schulbuchforschung, Vol 4, 2008, Special issue "Schulbücher im postsowjetischen Kaukasus und in Zentralasien"
  • Šnirel’man, V.A., Abylchožin, Ž. B., Abašin, S. N., Zoljan, M., Zakarjan, T., Kakitelašvili (2010): Mnogolikaja Klio: boi za istoriju na postsovetskom prostranstve. Braunšvejg 2010.

Supported by

  • Federal Foreign Office