JOPOL 5(2021)

Language Textbooks and Popular Geopolitics: Representations of the World and (Post)colonial History in English and French
Karen Risager

Abstract
This article discusses how language textbooks may be fruitful for the study of popular geopolitics. It contains a comparative analysis of two textbooks used in lower secondary education in Denmark: A Piece of Cake and Fran├žais Formidable. Their representations of the world and their narratives of colonial history are very different in many respects (apart from the obvious differences related to the different geographical areas affected by British and French colonialism). In particular, their treatment of Africa is very different.

The analysis draws on my book from 2018: Representations of the World in Language Textbooks. That book presents and implements a number of different theoretical approaches to the analysis of representations of the world (the entire planet) in language textbooks. Among them are the following, which are also used in this article: national studies (which countries are represented in the textbook?), transnational studies (which transnational connections are represented?) and postcolonial studies (is history, particularly (post)colonial history, represented?).

In addition to the comparison itself, the article discusses the possible reasons behind the two different narratives of the world and world history. Generally, the analysis shows that it is important to be aware of the differences among the various languages in which popular geopolitics is modelled. Languages are differently positioned in the global linguistic landscape that has developed as a result of world history, and there are also different political perspectives on that.

Keywords: Textbooks, cultural representations, postcolonial studies, the teaching of English, the teaching of French