Print version ISSN 0018-229X
ABSTRACT This article views chapters from history textbooks as a glimpse into a particular zeitgeist of the current South African educational milieu. The central question is how these sampled books position a textual community as mediated by the topic of race theories impacting the twentieth century in various regions. To contextualise the topic, we provide a brief overview of similar studies and present some voices in current debates about the meaning and relevance of conceptions of race and racism. We then analyse data, providing examples and illustrations. The five major emerging themes from the discourse analysis of the texts are that authors 1) write from a single perspective showing intolerance of ambiguity; 2) have an a-historical or anti-historical position towards text; 3) write from a reductionist position; 4) mimic critical thinking; and 5) position themselves as scaffolds that create opportunities for inquiry. These findings are discussed in some detail. We conclude that the books are predominantly positioned to advance citizenship education in a specific mould and that they tend to repeat the letter of the "curriculum law" of democratising and of healing the divisions of the past, but in the process defeat the spirit of such healing. We end by considering some implications for textbook writing.
Keywords : textual community; race; racism; history textbooks; education; curriculum.