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Conclusions

This chapter has argued that the ‘politics of empire’ has proven an integral and often divisive component in the re-imagining of national identity and citizenship in post-colonising states, influencing how the colonial past is understood and taught to current and future generations. Approaches to teaching the colonial past are reflective of the distinctive historical and contemporary circumstances within each post-colonising state. However, post-colonial debates about the content and purpose of curricula and textbooks clearly connect with and map onto the structural and thematic ‘frontlines’ of the ‘history wars’ that are more typically national in focus.

Moreover, post-colonising states typically reject the centrifugal framing of transnational colonial history education in favour of reductive centripetal national approaches. While claims of ‘imperial amnesia’ cannot be sustained, a ‘selective myopia’ continues to allow post-colonising states to disseminate nostalgic and largely uncritical versions of the colonial past. As such, the ‘dark pages’ of colonial history, such as colonial violence and the origins of slavery, are overlooked in favour of perspectives that seek to nourish the proposition of civilising, progressive colonialism, and, where possible, peaceful decolonisation.

 
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