Stereotypes, prejudices, self and ‘the other’ in history textbooks.
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This article is a literature review of conceptions of stereotype, prejudice, underlying assumptions and images of self and other as relevant to history textbooks and related research. History textbooks are seen as representations of a nation’s official history as they build identity and form conceptions of morality in their readers. I address questions like, what are the underlying assumptions of history texts that lead to picturing ourselves and others? Could an understanding of the other be seen as a liability, given the moral responsibility it introduces? In seeking answers, instead of a sociological approach analysing the social systems of power and oppression, the perpetuating of stereotypes is viewed from an individual, psychological perspective. Hence, I ask how the psychology of hatred could be understood and what this implies for viewing the self in relation to the other through history education. I conclude by stressing that moral responsibility starts with the self and not with the other; and that the bigger enemy of history teaching is not prejudice and stereotype contained in pedagogic texts, but indifference or bystander behaviour that such texts could encourage.