It's important to consider how human beings use historical contents like the "Reconquista": The past has been conceptually re-elaborated to maintain and to justify the present and to format the future.
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In order to understand previous and contemporary political conflicts through history education in both formal and informal environments, it is imperative to comprehend what has happened and where a certain event has happened.
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If we examine most of troubled pasts presented in educational scenarios, two features clearly appear. Most of the historical events have a national character and most of them happend just recently.
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Umberto Eco passed away recently, on 19 February, 2016. His contributions to philosophy and semiology, as well as his literary productions, have played a very influential role in our contemporary culture. On this occasion, his ideas about the importance of irony, which had a key role in his famous novel, Il nome della Rosa, are analyzed in relation to current problems in history education. This note intends, also, to be a modest homage to his deep and extensive work on the development of both culture and values.
National Narratives and Identities
History education powerfully influences the construction of national identities through so-called myths of origin that are taught and then subsequently appropriated by students, and which play an important role in most educational systems and practices. Therefore, researchers today generally agree that the history curricula from diverse countries are still full of nationalist contents, which do not coincide with historiographical research on nations and their origins.
Is patriotism alive? Does it influence citizens’ historical representations? As for many other issues, George Orwell, during WW II, was lucidly able to anticipate its importance when he said: “One cannot see the modern world as it is, unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of patriotism, national loyalty. In certain circumstances, it may crumble; at certain levels of civilization, it does not exist; yet as a positive force, there is nothing comparable. Next to it, Christianity and international socialism are weak as hay.”
One can argue that, after WW II, patriotism and its presence in public history remained, generally, a rather old fashioned question until 9/11 (2001), when it came to life again.