Welcoming and othering- civic immigrant education in Germany and the United Kingdom

30th October 2018 : 17:00 - 18:30

Category: Seminar

Speaker: Kristine Gorgen, DPhil student, Department of Education, University of Oxford

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room D

Over the last two decades civic integration has become a dominant practice among Western liberal democracies.

Civic integration policies are government efforts to regulate and standardise the integration of immigrants into their respective societies. Such policies could be legalistic tools such as naturalisation oaths and contracts or more educational measures such as civic courses and tests, in which immigrants are taught about and tested on national politics, history and culture. Despite the wide-spread use of naturalisation courses and tests, little is known about civic education for adult immigrants from educational research. This paper will present preliminary findings of research on the civic course and test in Germany as well as the civic immigrant education process in the United Kingdom.

This research builds on the concept of Othering, which was first introduced by George H. Mead in 1934 as a construction of self-identity in response and opposition to an ‘other’. Franz Fanon and Edward Said, in their own distinct ways, further developed othering into a post-colonial concept arguing that othering is a practice of establishing a cultural hierarchy to justify the dominance of the West. I stipulate that the depictions of national and immigrant identities used in the civic immigrant education process are a form of othering. In the books, course materials and citizenship tests visions of the country’s national identity are juxtaposed with what the state believes to be the identity of immigrants. At the same time, civic immigrant education uses a welcoming rhetoric, inviting immigrants to join the national community.