De-Orientalizing the Western Gaze on Eastern Europe

The First Soviet Occupation in Lithuanian History Textbooks

in Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society
Barbara ChristopheSenior Researcher, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig, Germany

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Comparing narratives of the Soviet occupation in 1940 in current textbooks by two leading Lithuanian publishing houses, I claim that Lithuanian textbooks offer diverging accounts, which mirror to a large extent the opposing mnemonic frames supported by two rival political camps. I also show that the same textbooks tame those differences by transcending the politically charged frames they have chosen in the first place, presenting, for example, the USSR as both villain and victim of the war. Considering the relevance of these findings for our understanding of dynamics of remembering in general and in the Lithuanian culture of memory in particular, I point out that embracing the political inherent in all acts of recalling the past does not necessarily lead to politicized, i.e. narrow-minded memories, and I reflect on what these mnemonic practices mean for reevaluating the traditional role of Eastern Europe as the backward other of Western Europe.

Contributor Notes

Barbara Christophe is a senior researcher at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig. Email:

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