History Curriculum as Postmodern, Postcolonial, and International Text

Since the emergence of postmodern social theory, history has been haunted by predictions of its imminent end. Announcing a crisis of representation, the postmodern condition has placed in doubt the historical narrative’s claims to truth (Jenkins, 1991). Postmodernism has been accused of making historical research and writing untenable, encouraging the proliferation of revisionist histories, fostering uncritical relativism, providing fertile ground for historical denial, and promoting the adoption of a mournful view of the past (Evans, 1997; Windshuttle, 1996) . Tethered to state political interests, historical narratives are frequently studied and taught in national categories (Curthoys, 2003); and history as a school subject is regularly an area of public debate, government disquiet, and a site of struggle over collective memory and cultural literacy (Macintyre, & Clark, 2003; Nash, Crabtree, & Dunn, 1998; Richardson, 2002; Taylor & Guyver, 2011). The emergence and recognition of counter-memories from Indigenous minorities, and the de-centering of the nation inside global histories, have interrupted the incontestability of the nation-building project. One area of my work in History curriculum sits at the intersection of these concerns. I am interested in the various ‘ends of History’ these concerns signal, and have worked to re-evaluate the apparent ‘threat’ to history posed by postmodernism, and the implications of postmodern and postcolonial theory for History education. I am increasingly interested in History education and the problem of the nation, and how this sits in tension with forces of internationalisation. Many of these themes are taken up in my recent book Interrupting History: Rethinking History Curriculum after ‘the End of History’; and I am currently co-guest editing with Professor Monika Vinterek (Darlana University, Sweden), History Curriculum, Geschichtsdidaktik, and the Problem of the Nation, a special issue of the journal ‘Education Sciences’ which will also attempt to explore how these issues are being addressed in various regional traditions of History education.


Curthoys, A. (2003). Cultural history and the nation. In H.-M. Tiq & R. White (Eds.), Cultural history in Australia (pp. 22-37). Sydney: UNSW Press.

Evans, R. J. (1997). In defence of history. London: Granta Books.

Jenkins, K. (1991). Re-thinking history. London: Routledge.

Macintyre, S., & Clark, A. (2003). The history wars. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Nash, G. B., Crabtree, C., & Dunn, R. E. (1998). History on trial: Culture wars and the teaching of the past. New York: Alfred A, Knopf.

Richardson, G. H. (2002). The death of the good Canadian: Teachers, national identities, and the social studies curriculum. New York: Peter Lang.

Taylor, T., & Guyver, R. (Eds.). (2011). History wars in the classroom: Global perspectives. London: Information Age Publishing.

Windschuttle, K. (1996). The killing of history: How literary critics and social theorists are murdering our past. New York: The Free Press.

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