7th Conference of the International Research Association for History and Social Sciences Education (IRAHSSE)

in collaboration with the Société des professeurs d’histoire du Québec (SPHQ)

Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada, October, 15-17, 2020

Teaching and learning history and the social sciences in relation to minorities-majorities dynamics in a national context

We invite you to submit a proposal on the announced theme.

For this official call, your proposal, 200 words in length, must announce the theoretical framework, the methodology and some results. The bibliography must include at least 3 references.

Send us your proposal before November 15, 2019 to airdhss.uqtr.2020@gmail.com. Download the proposal form here: https://www.euroclio.eu/2019/10/25/call-for-papers-international-research-association-for-history-and-social-sciences-education-irahsse/

How does the teaching of humanities and social sciences reconcile with contrasting national contexts characterized by situations of great cultural diversity marked by the presence of minoritized groups? What is the contribution of history and the social sciences to this question? What pedagogies are put in place to implement school curricula and how do they advance teaching around such a sensitive question?

The coexistence of minorities and majorities within different national contexts is not new. As the historian Benedict Anderson (1991) asserts, whenever state boundaries do not coincide with cultural boundaries, nationalist movements with strong political claims may rise. Sometimes, these latent tensions between state power and various minority groups can turn into “frozen conflicts”, as is the case with the conflicts that arose on the territory of the former USSR (Jolicoeur and Campana, 2009). In such a context, no state or region seems homogeneous when viewed from the angle of cultural diversity.

These situations, which are innumerable around the world, may constitute a great asset for teaching in the humanities and the social sciences. One can think of, among others, Catalonia and the Basque Country in Spain and in France, Scotland and Wales in Great Britain, Flemish and Walloon Belgium, China and Taiwan, France and other countries in Western Europe with large postcolonial communities (after the decolonisation wave of the 1950s-70s), or minoritized indigenous populations in numerous countries in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania.

Québec, with a multifaceted history of a Francophone minority within English Canada and an Anglophone minority within Québec itself, can, also in the light of many social sciences related questions, serve as an example of a case-study of such a theme. Moreover, Canada and Quebec themselves host numerous minorities, such as French Canadians outside Quebec and Anglo-Quebecers, or, again, the eleven First Nations of Quebec, each with their own historical and social contingencies (Delâge 1991, Bouvier et al., 2012).

This international conference, which will take place in Trois-Rivières (Quebec), will seek to shed light on the ways in which history and the social sciences as they are taught in schools, take into account geohistorical, political, cultural, social and identity-related factors that contribute to the emergence of the minority predicament in the world and the shaping of interactions and connections between social groups. The goal is to initiate a reflection on the relationship between nationalism, citizenship, political framework and cultural diversity.

This conference is organised around three axes. The first will focus on the emerging challenges characterising majority-minority situations as discussed above. The second will centre on educational aims, curricula, teaching practices and available teaching materials. Finally, the third will pertain to the actors involved in these different national contexts and their relation to the teaching materials, notably the digital ones.

Axis 1: Emerging Challenges

This axis opens and possibly continues an epistemological and critical discussion on the national contexts of the teaching of history, geography and the social sciences, in connection with the relations between national minorities and majorities. It is thus a question of better understanding the dynamics within which these entities evolve, as well as the processes that led to the configuration of these dynamics. The aim here is to better grasp their influence on the teaching and learning of history and the social sciences as well as their potential.

Axis 2: Aims, curricula, teaching practices and teaching materials

In teaching history and the social sciences, the difficulty of defining, promoting and appreciating the development of teaching materials and operations of thought (such as declarative knowledge or heuristics) constitutes one of the most important and thorny challenges. It arises, notably as a result of the political significance or the scientific value given to such knowledge. These challenges raise questions about teaching, learning and assessment, which are particularly important in terms of understanding the social constructs of “minority” and “majority” in a national context. How do official curricula and the multiple teaching resources offered to teachers take these questions into account? Which teaching materials and practices are likely to help students think of themselves as historical actors while helping them  develop a sense of agency in regards to their knowledge, skills and attitudes associated with the practice of history as a discipline, or the other social sciences?

Axis 3: Actors, Teachers, students and other members of the educational community, through the prism of multiple identities in different national contexts

The different actors involved in the teaching and learning of history and other social sciences are often familiar in their practice with the sensitive relationship between minority and majority. The relationship between teachers and students thus requires to negotiate the potential multiple affiliations in the light of the knowledge taught. This situation opens up different questions to explore: How do multiple affiliations manifest themselves in the teaching of history and other social sciences? How do actors negotiate their connection to a type of knowledge that invokes a sensitive relationship between minority and majority?


Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Londres, Angleterre : Verso.

Bouvier, F., Allard, M., Aubin, P. et Larouche, M.-C. (dir.) (2012). L’histoire nationale à l’école québécoise, regards sur deux siècles d’enseignement, Québec : Septentrion.

Delâge, D. (1991). Le pays renversé : Amérindiens et Européens en Amérique du Nord-Est, 1600-1664. Montréal : Boréal.

Helly, D. (2002). Minorités ethniques et nationales : les débats sur le pluralisme culturel. L’Année sociologique, 2002/1 (Vol. 52), p. 147-181.

Jolicoeur, P. et Campana, A. (2009). Introduction : « Conflits gelés » de l’ex-URSS : Débats théoriques et politiques. Études internationales, 40(4), 501–521.

McAndrew, M. (2010). Les majorités fragiles et l’éducation. Québec : Presses de l’Université de Montréal.