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To which space do I belong? Imagining citizenship in one curriculum subject

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According to some commentators, one consequence of the ever-increasing levels of globalization and internationalization of everyday life in the developed world during the last decade is the growing disorientation in many people's sense of place. Indeed, David Harvey has asked: 'To what space/place do we belong? Am I a citizen of the world, the nation, the locality?' In the school curriculum, geography offers children an answer to these questions by providing stable representations or 'maps of meaning' with which to make sense of the world. This article draws on work in cultural geography that regards such representations as highly constructed and historically contingent versions of the 'geographical imagination'. It follows that calls to develop citizenship through geography draw upon 'imagined geographies of citizenship' which can be read for their dominant ideologies and hidden geographies of inclusion and exclusion. The article critically examines a number of such 'imagined geographies'. These include Mackinder's argument that geography should promote an 'imperial gaze', teaching British children about their rightful dominion over 'less developed' people, the geographies of post-war reconstruction, and recent calls for school geographers to teach a distinctly 'British geography'. The article offers critical interpretations of these 'imagined geographies of citizenship', suggesting that arguments over citizenship education in school subjects must be located in wider social, economic and political contexts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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