A postcolonial discourse analysis of Finnish school textbooks: learning about the world from a tourist perspective


  • Pia Mikander University of Helsinki
  • Harriet Zilliacus University of Helsinki


social science education, geography education, postcolonial perspective, tourism, textbook analysis


In this article, we ask how Finnish basic education school textbooks in social science portray tourism and countries with a big tourism sector. We have analyzed the textbook quotes from a postcolonial perspective, using discourse theory analysis. The idea is to challenge what is considered objective information about tourist locations in school textbooks. The results show that even if some ethical questions are at times debated openly, particularly environmental problems at tourist sites, tourism is considered as something predominantly positive. The textbook reader is assumed to be a potential tourist. Some textbook quotes resemble tourist brochures, while people living in tourist locations are given marginal importance. A key argument is that the unequal global power relations between tourists and those living in tourist locations are not challenged. Considering tourism from a postcolonial point of view brings a vital perspective to social science education. There is a need to challenge the positions that are appointed to textbook readers.

Author Biographies

Pia Mikander, University of Helsinki

PhD, education

Harriet Zilliacus, University of Helsinki

PhD, education