In East Asia, national history textbooks have become a particularly sensitive topic in recent years. Though history is not the only school subject related to official projects of identity formation, it is often the prime curricular vehicle for official programmes of political socialisation. Thus, discussion of recent East Asian history textbooks frequently centres on attempts by the state to define or shape national ‘memory’, the related politics of identity and a consequent ‘whitewashing’ of the historical narrative to produce an image of the nation ‘untainted’ by any problematic episodes.2 At the same time, history textbooks and the pedagogical discourses surrounding their design and use reflect the increasingly global flow of concepts and ideals, as evidenced by the extent to which recent East Asian debates over history teaching and curriculum development have been influenced by Western models, particularly as Asian states attempt to borrow elements of Western pedagogical practice seen as promoting ‘creativity’ or skills of ‘critical thinking’ crucial to success in the ‘global knowledge economy’. Efforts to reconcile Western (frequently European) trends in history education (such as an emphasis on the use of primary sources, the promotion of skills of analysis and the role of history education and joint textbook initiatives in furthering regional unity) with the strongly nationalistic and moralising approaches to history education common throughout East Asia have given rise to growing tensions and contradictions in national agendas for history teaching and related programmes of ‘nationbuilding education’.