In German there exists a word, Heimat, which finds no direct correspondence into other languages. It describes a feeling of belonging to a social, cultural and geographical context and is often vaguely translated with homeland.
Heimatkunde, literally translated as the knowledge of Heimat, was a subject taught in German speaking elementary schools in South Tyrol (I) until the beginning of the 90s. The subject explored every child's world starting with the individual, expanding to the family, friends, classroom, social structure and immediate geography up to the environment, animals and plants, and local history.
The aim was both to educate the child about the context it belonged to as well as to create social cohesion among a minority community.
In 2017 I published the school journal I made myself between the age of 8 and 10 in form of an artist book. It is an invitation to map your own geographical and conceptual elements of the place we live in, by creating a personal, multi-layerded vision of our local dimension.
Prior to the first Great War, South Tyrol belonged to the Austrio-Hungarian princely County of Tyrol, but this almost completely German-speaking territory was occupied by Italy at the end of the war in 1918. With the rise of Italian Fascism, the new regime made efforts to bring forward the Italianization of South Tyrol. The German language was banished from public service, German teaching was officially forbidden, and German newspapers were censored. The regime also favored mass-immigration from other Italian regions.
Due to its peculiar history, a divide between the German and the Italian speaking communities is still felt among the population and particularly inside institutions: there is only on elementary school in my hometown were Italian and German speaking kids share the same building, although they are only allowed to use the playground at different times. The school, named after the South Tyorlean politician and activist Alexander Langer, a strong advocate of peaceful and convivial coexistence among minority groups, was symbolically chosen as the first venue for the installed book.