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Víctor Manuel Quintero León

This chapter presents an analysis of the visual image of globalization. A study on how the so-called globalization process is ‘pictured’ in social sciences educational textbooks around the globe. A comparative analysis has been made of textbooks for students in the last compulsory level before university in 19 countries: Europe (Portugal, Italy, Norway, Spain, Austria, Germany, Moldavia, England, France, Netherlands), Africa (South Africa), Asia (India) America (Uruguay, Canada, USA, Guatemala, Chile, Brazil) and Australia (Australia). By drawing a comparison between these countries, focusing on the decade 2000-2010, it extracts the most repeated images, patterns of visual meaning and possible hidden iconographic programs. Our sources, obtained through intensive research in Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Germany, consist on textbook scanned pages, photographs inserted in those pages, maps, diagrams, drawings and paintings shown in the specific chapters dedicated to globalization in the selected sample of textbooks. Textbooks are still defined and produced by nation states; that make them holders of ‘legitimate knowledge’ from an academic, political and educational view. Moreover, visual materials are ubiquitous in these textbooks and of the foremost importance conveying ‘not explicit’ knowledge that sometimes stays in students much more than the text itself, creating a visual imagery where stereotypes and preconceptions hold. This research jumps into that field using a social semiotics methodology extracting patterns of visual meaning in two dimensions: visual expression (using Basil Bernstein and social semiotics’ concepts of classification, framing and formality) and contents. It answers questions such as: How is the concept of globalization constructed through the images in school textbooks around the world? And, is there an iconographic program in the teaching of globalization worldwide? The findings open the discussion about the role of textbooks in visual literacy, the international homogenization of ideas and how world-orders are legitimized by textbooks imagery.