Exploring the Process of National Identity Construction in the Context of Schooling in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

  • Olga Campbell-Thomson

Student thesis: Phd


The research reported in this thesis explores national identity construction by students in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). A lower secondary school (6-8 grades, 11-14 years) was the site where the research took place. The study was designed to examine the relationship between students' construction of national identity and their educational experience. The aim was to reveal and examine the sense of national self this age-group of students in Northern Cyprus had, how through their education they were placed in the immediate community and the broader social and geo-political space, and what factors contributed to the process of the construction of their national identification. The study was undertaken using multimedia data collection methods, specifically (1) primary texts; (2) interviews with students, teachers, school managers, textbooks writers and officials from the Ministry of Education; and (3) on-site observation of the school at work and lessons. The analytic framing for enquiry was based on Foucault's programme of investigation of the constitution of the subject, which approached the process of national identity construction as an interplay of the structural environment of schooling and of individuals' agency, revealed through a set of practices. The study findings indicated that the schooling experience played a distinct role in shaping national identities of students. The school was shown to actively promote the state, the TRNC, where the school was located. The state rituals and state ideology were reproduced through school practices, which modeled prescriptive patterns of state structures but were also seen as 'school-specific'. Viewed as such, school practices, through which the students were positioned as belonging to their state, reproduced and sustained the social norms practiced in society. The patterns of students' positioning as belonging to their state reflected conflicting conditions of the existence of the TRNC. Through their schooling experience, the students were positioned as belonging to the same national group. At the same time, the students were shown to be capable of strategizing in making their individual choices of self-positioning in relationship to the world of states and nations. Several interrelated factors contributing to the process of national identity construction were identified as education policies, schooling environment, teachers' agency and students' agency. Theorized through Foucault's analytic concepts of technologies these factors were seen as parts of the same process and were clustered into a diagram mapping the technologies in relation to one another as four interrelated factors.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHelen Gunter (Supervisor) & Melvin Ainscow (Supervisor)


  • National Identity, Schooling, Cyprus, Foucault

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