English has become symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 1991), where textbooks contain more than text, that is, they become a site of power and ideological construct. The global spread of English via English textbooks has played a hegemonic role not only in commodifying education but also in constructing the image of the western and other bodies, on a global scale.
This study addresses the subaltern position and politics of belonging to an English academy. Based on a framework of imagined communities (Anderson, 2006), the study aims to describe how the “west” and “others” are constructed and represented in the context of English higher education in north eastern Thailand. Two English commercial textbooks from two publishers are used for data analysis. Thematic analysis and critical discourse analysis are employed to expose respective phenomena.
Findings reveal that the overall cultural representation is not balanced but western oriented. Significant evidence exists to indicate domination through western cultural content, and the ignorance of cultural hybridization or the existence of otherness in these texts. This study elucidates the multifaceted construct and the powerful representation of western power embedded in the English classroom—the sites of struggle of young learners whose English is a secondary discourse (cf. James Gee). In today’s context, where intercultural communication is intended to pivot global community learning, it is hoped that this study can influence decisions on policy on material design and classroom development.
Anderson, B. (2006). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.
Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power. Oxford: Polity.
Keywords: Bourdieu, Symbolic power, English, Textbooks, Thailand