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The impact of the portrayal of the African continent in textbooks on racism against students of African ancestry in German schools


"The image of Africa in German textbooks and curricula is based on racist stereotypes, which can be traced back to the colonial era when dehumanisation of African people served to justify the colonisation of their continent. Poverty, violence and underdevelopment are the prevailing images of Africa in German history and geography textbooks. Pre-colonial African history, African culture and philosophy are not covered by the Eurocentric curriculum. Classic and modern western literature is interspersed with stereotypes about African people; these stereotypes often pass uncommented by the teachers.
In an empirical case study we examine the impact of this presentation of Africa on the treatment and assessment of students of African ancestry by fellow students and teachers.
The longitudinal study will be carried out in an urban school in Hamburg, with Year 7 students (12-13 years old). In the first phase the initial situation will be assessed using quantitative and qualitative data collection. In the second phase, the textbooks and curriculum will be reviewed in cooperation with historians and textbook authors and new unbiased tutorials will be developed. These tutorials will be based on up-to-date research and will consider the African perspective. In the third phase spanning over one academic year, the new tutorials will be implemented in the lessons. The lessons will be observed ethnographically. In the fourth and final phase the initial enquiry will be repeated. Comparing the results of the initial and the final enquiries we examine to which extend racism in schools can be combated on a cognitive level, by correcting the distorted image of Africa.
The novelty and the relevance of this project is that we will go beyond revising the image of Africa to actually apply the new tutorials in real school lessons. Thus this research will contribute to a better education and will directly benefit curriculum developers, educators and students."

Field of science

  • /humanities/languages and literature/literature - general
  • /social sciences/sociology/social problems/racism
  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history
  • /social sciences/educational sciences/pedagogy/teaching
  • /humanities/philosophy, ethics and religion/philosophy

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MC-IEF - Intra-European Fellowships (IEF)


Mittelweg 177
20148 Hamburg
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 162 163,20
Administrative Contact
Guo Chenbo (Ms.)