Language textbooks and popular geopolitics: transnational and decolonial dimensions

Talk by professor emerita Karen Risager (University of Roskilde) in the Digital series of talks on plurilingualism and interculturality.

The talk deals with foreign language textbooks with special reference to their role in popular geopolitics. The discussion is based on a comparative analysis of two textbooks used in lower secondary education in Denmark: A Piece of Cake and Français Formidable, an analysis which focuses on transnational and decolonial dimensions of their representations of the world. Although the two textbooks have been produced with the same publisher, their representations of the world and their narratives of colonial history are very different in many respects – apart from the obvious differences related to the different geographical areas affected by British and French colonialism. In particular, their treatment of Africa is very different. The talk discusses the possible reasons behind the two narratives of the world and world history, showing how language textbooks are cultural products that play a more or less unintended part in contemporary popular geopolitics.

Karen Risager has kindly given permission to record her presentation. 


Risager, K. (2018) Representations of the World in Language Textbooks. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Risager, K. (2021) Language textbooks: windows to the world. Language, Culture and Curriculum 34 (1), Special issue: The Language Textbook: Representation, Interaction & Learning, ed. by G. Canale.

Risager, K. (2021) Language textbooks and popular geopolitics: Representations of the world and (post)colonial history in English and French. Journal of Postcolonial Linguistics 5, Special issue: Language and Popular Geopolitics, ed. by C. Levisen & S.S. Fernández.