Ethnic-National Conflict in Iran:(Thoughts on the Concept of Cultural Occupation in Iran’s Curricula and the Emergence of Underground/Shadow Curriculum)

Year: 2018

Author: Fathi Vajargah, Kourosh

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The issue of ethnicity is an important concern at an international level. Many countries all over the world are made up of ethnicities and diverse populations. Iran includes various ethnic groups which constitute a heterogeneous set of different racial, linguistic, religious, and cultural nationalities. Unfortunately, most of these groups feel that they have been discriminated by the government in varying degrees.
The author of the article believes that the government has adopted a kind of “security attitude and approach” to ethnicity in Iran rather than a "cultural approach", which has caused the emergence of ethnical conflicts in some areas. On the other hand, it has the potentiality to grow the separatist thoughts.
The paper also uses concepts related to military occupation as a metaphor, suggests that as a territory can be occupied by foreign forces, cultural landscapes and culture-based institutions such as schools and curricula can be occupied in a multi-ethnic environment, too. It means that in a society that has different subcultures and ethnic groups, when the spread of the national culture is high and the cultural boundaries of the regions are not respected or they are not given opportunity to emerge, practically cultural occupation occurs. In such a situation, the voice of prevailing culture is so loud that whispers and voices of ethnic cultures are not heard. It is very optimistic to think that adopting such a procedure will strengthen the national and religious culture of the country.
 At the community level, when cultural upheaval arises and separatism is promoted, a situation occurs in the educational system in terms of education which can be called as” shadow curriculum” or “underground curriculum”.
The shadow or underground curriculum is a learning which actually exists, but it is not considered legitimate by the official curriculum. Like underground art and music, the curriculum can also be underground in a way that all people are aware of opponent thoughts against official recognition of integrated identity and interest in local affiliations but such thoughts are not recognized. This phenomenon is different from hidden curriculum in some aspects.
In the end, the paper, welcomes the "national-ethnic identity” as a hyphenated identity concept within the framework of cultural pluralism and describes the use of the multicultural citizenship education strategy in Iran as a solution to overcome this ethnic-national conflict.