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Children's educational engagement with nationalism in divided Cyprus

Spyros Spyrou (Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, European University Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




The purpose of this paper is to provide a situated, theoretically informed account of national identity construction by exploring children's engagement with nationalism in the context of the classroom in divided Cyprus. The paper aims to illustrate how children enter and participate in the cultural world of nationalism in the classroom by accepting, resisting, and negotiating the ideological meanings they encounter there.


The research on which the paper draws used an ethnographic approach. The paper draws primarily on teacher‐student exchanges during class lessons and, to a lesser extent, on interviews with children.


The paper suggests that the process of engagement between children, teachers, and nationalism often produces powerful senses of belonging which are, however, always limited and unstable both because of ideological contradictions and ambiguities and because of children's access to alternative knowledge.

Research limitations/implications

Though the ethnographic evidence suggests that nationalism in educational contexts produces powerful senses of belonging among children, more research is necessary to document the processes by which children consume nationalistic ideologies.


The paper is original because it offers a dynamic explanation of national identity construction through the application of practice theory to ethnographic data which takes into account both the powerful institutional constraints imposed on children at school as well as their agency and ability to impact their worlds.



Spyrou, S. (2011), "Children's educational engagement with nationalism in divided Cyprus", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 31 No. 9/10, pp. 531-542.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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