Schooling the "other": creating European citizens in a multi-ethnic Transylvanian town
Sociology University of Essex Colchester, United Kingdom
In the advent of further South-Eastern expansion of the predominantly Western EU, two more states historically associated with "the (Balkanic) other" rather than with (the "core" of) Europe - i.e. Romania and Bulgaria - have jumped, at the beginning of 2007, in the "pool of civilization". As the shifting identities of the post-communist multi-ethnic South-Eastern European states are called into question, Europe has to continue redefining its cultural boundaries with evermore increased vigilance. As a result, education has, once again, been called in to fill the void of culture and transform the future citizens of the EU polity, their identities and allegiances notwithstanding, into true, full-grown Europeans - an aim that is apparent in virtually all of the members' states national educational policies.
In this context, the purpose of this paper is to trace an ethnographically rich portrait of the schooled constructions of "otherness" through the teaching of citizenship in one multiethnic Transylvanian town in Romania where Romanian, Hungarian and Rroma communities co-reside. The interplay between the transmission of European values as set within a national educational system and the construction(s) of the local ethnic minority identities will be explored.
The school level of interest encompasses the first four years of the recently extended last part of compulsory education in Romania, also known as lower-secondary education (i.e. gimnaziu). This is because the last compulsory teaching of the civics discipline occurs at this educational stage.
While drawing from a larger research project which includes analyses of policy documents, curricula and textbooks, this particular paper will focus on school-level mechanisms of ethnic identity construction. These will be probed through participant observation and conversation analysis methodology, and particularly through the use of "membership categorization devices" analysis in classroom interaction - a previously unexplored method for Romanian educational studies.