Citizenship and Children’s Identity in The Adventures of Nils and Scouting for Boys

DSpace Repository

Citizenship and Children’s Identity in The Adventures of Nils and Scouting for Boys

Show full item record

Files for download

Find Full text There are no files associated with this item.


Simple item record

Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Citizenship and Children’s Identity in The Adventures of Nils and Scouting for Boys
Author(s) Sundmark, Björn
Date 2007-10
English abstract
One of the problems facing present-day liberal and multicultural society is how to negotiate identity and nation through education. If national belonging becomes exclusive and territorial, it will alienate those who feel (or are told) that they are not fully qualified citizens. On the other hand, if citizenship is inclusive but meaningless, society is still at risk. Little prevents it from disintegrating into subcultures and interest groups based on ethnicity and religion. Indeed, both assertive exclusion and watered-down inclusion are problematic, for in each scenario identity-formation and citizenship is disconnected from the greater good of the community. Inclusive and meaningful education is one key. In my paper I will appraise two widely different educational approaches to these issues, both of which have been in and out of fashion for a hundred years. I refer to those seminal works of citizenship and children’s identity: The Adventures of Nils (1906-7) by Selma Lagerlöf and Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship Through Woodcraft (1908) by Robert Baden Powell. The two texts are characteristic of their time and their respective national and cultural contexts – British Empire and Swedish nation – and there is admittedly a lot of ideological and pedagogical lumber between the pages. For instance, the way in which male gender by default equals “human” is of course striking. Nils is a boy, yet unproblematically used as an Everyman representing all children. And Baden-Powell’s handbook is apparently directed at boys only. However, despite these flaws, a critical reading, where I shall make use of recent theories on citizenship and nation, shows that these works still have something say in the educational debate of the 21st century and the questions raised about identity and inclusion.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) citizenship
Humanities/Social Sciences
comparative literature
Note Föredraget hölls vid konferensen Citizenship Education in Society - A challenge for the Nordic countries som ägde rum i Malmö 4-5 oktober.
Handle (link to this page)
Buy print (print-on-demand service)

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record



My Account