It is a challenge to understand the Middle East without knowing about the history of global imperialism, especially European colonialism since the “Age of Exploration". Merryfield and Wilson (2005) address issues of bias rooted in imperial views, which may impact your approach to teaching about Islam, Muslims and Muslim communities. These are subjects related to Ohio middle school social studies curriculum standards. Merryfield and Wilson (2005) identify (p.62) ten common tropes found in mainstream curriculum that denote an imperial worldview:

1) a portrayal of ‘the other’ based upon European or American scholarship;

Drawing from Edward Lane’s 19th century book “Modern Egyptians" By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons.

2) assumptions of American superiority;

3) learning structured to focus on differences;

4) exoticizing portrayals of people in other cultures;

5) people in other cultures appear as backdrops for American experiences, treated with less attention, less complexity of character attributed;

6) justifications for imperialism, the right to take resource, displace people, segregate them, implied;

7) underlying implication racism or imperialism ended long ago;

8) people who suffered from, resisted imperialism, colonialism or related discrimination given little attention;

9) culture or nationality linked to racial or ethnic purity;

10) colonial or imperial literature, vocabulary and references are used.

I am conducting a study on how teachers counter curriculum which conveys perceptions of Muslims, Muslim-majority countries, and Muslim diaspora communities rooted in imperial histories. Imperial histories are of significance to these topics today because forty-five of the forty-nine Muslim-majority countries of the world were European colonies, and the remaining five were profoundly impacted by Westernization stemming from European imperialism.

You will be asked to share how you teach about women, in particular, with respect to imperial dominance. The participants will receive incentives which are not monetary. These include:

  • A lesson plan and materials for implementation for filling out the initial survey. The subject is free to take the instructional materials, regardless of whether or not they complete the survey.
  • A free consultation with me upon completion of the survey.
  • The possibility of co-presenting preliminary results of the study at a professional conference, such as the National Council on the Social Studies.

If you would like to participate, please respond to this survey.

Cited source:

Merryfield, Merry M., and Angene Hopkins Wilson. Social Studies and the World : Teaching Global Perspectives. Silver Spring, Md.: National Council for the Social Studies, 2005.

Further reading:

Payind, Alam, and Melinda McClimans. Keys to Understanding the Middle East - Unizin Pressbooks, Ohio State University, 2016.