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German Colonial Rule in Present-day Namibia

The Struggle for Discursive Shifts in History Education

Patrick Mielke

Abstract

This article traces discursive shifts in the ways in which imperialism and European colonialism have been dealt with in the classroom in relation to the German history textbook Time for History (Zeit für Geschichte), which was published in 2010. It explores how the textbook's representation of German colonial rule in present-day Namibia both raises awareness of and reproduces common colonialist-racist images of the “other” by demonstrating how its content is negotiated in year-nine history lessons, as observed over the course of an ethnographic study carried out in a German secondary school. The author assesses the complex interplay between discursive practices of negotiation, everyday educational practices and deeply rooted, colonialist-racist images of the “other” and, on the basis of this interplay, analyses how difficult it is to bring about content-based and discursive shifts in the classroom.

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The “Imagined Other”

A Political Contextual Analysis of Secular and Hindu Nationalisms in Indian History Textbooks

Deepa Nair

Abstract

In 2014, the National Democratic Alliance, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won the general election with the highest number of seats won by any party since 1984 and went on to win a second term victory in 2019. Since the rise of the BJP, Hindu nationalist interventions into education have increased. Their agenda has been to “indigenise, nationalise and spiritualise” education in India. To this end, textbooks were written to promote a Hindu majoritarian idea of India that sees Hindus as the primary citizens of India and categorizes Muslims as the “other”. This article outlines the political context in which Hindu nationalists have recently attempted to rewrite Indian history by focusing on the period of Muslim rule in India. It looks at textbooks published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and media reports about regional history rewriting in India.

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Isabel Rivero-Vilá

Abstract

Foreign language documentary films offer limitless possibilities for language teaching and are an ideal medium for the integration of the target culture and for the promotion of serious and committed discussions about human rights, diversity, global issues, and sustainability. Language learning is based on current cultural contexts so that students become more engaged with the world. In order to integrate this world into my class, I became a documentary filmmaker and filmed everyday life while I was living in Nantes, France. In my interactive documentary (i-doc), students can explore the different opportunities that Nantes has to offer, from street art to socially engaged activities and student demonstrations. The learner watches and listens to interviews in the i-doc at their own pace and engages with the francophone community.

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“The Community is Everything, The Individual is Nothing”

The Second World War in Russian History Education

Dagmara Moskwa

Abstract

This article reconstructs the historical narrative of the Second World War in Russian middle school textbooks published after the year 2000. The author shows how textbook narratives are linked with official Russian politics of history, which aim to “manage” the memory of the war and contribute toward the standardization of Russian history teaching. Additional empirical material from interviews conducted with middle school history teachers in Moscow shows how perceptions of the teaching community impinge on ways in which knowledge about the Second World War is imparted, revealing the extent to which Russian politics of history are socially ineffective.

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De-Orientalizing the Western Gaze on Eastern Europe

The First Soviet Occupation in Lithuanian History Textbooks

Barbara Christophe

Abstract

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.

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Julie Fedor

This article explores a key claim underpinning Russian official memory politics, namely, the notion that Russia’s past (and especially the role it played in the Second World War) is the object of a campaign of “historical falsification” aimed at, among other things, undermining Russian sovereignty, especially by distorting young people’s historical consciousness. Although “historical falsification” is an important keyword in the Kremlin’s discourse, it has received little scholarly attention. Via an analysis of official rhetoric and methodological literature aimed at history teachers, I investigate the ideological functions performed by the concept of “historical falsification.” I show how it serves to reinforce a conspiratorial vision of Russia as a nation under siege, while simultaneously justifying the drive toward greater state control over history education.

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Introduction

Remembering the Second World War in Post-Soviet Educational Media

Barbara Christophe

Analyzing representations of the Second World War in Russian—and in one case, Lithuanian—educational media, the contributions to this special issue respond to three important anniversaries: the eightieth anniversary of the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 2019, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Second World War victory in 2020, and the eightieth anniversary of the German invasion of the USSR in 2021. Moreover, they investigate the commemoration of historical events which clearly gained in significance after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was only in the mid-1990s that post-Soviet Russia first introduced annual parades on Victory Day, 9 May, which used to take place only every five years during Soviet times. And it was again the government of Boris Yeltsin that expanded the Russian mnemonic calendar and introduced the Day of Mourning on 22 June, the day Germany invaded the USSR in 1941. Finally, the articles in this special issue also intervene in a lively academic debate on the political and cultural significance of the single most important affair in post-Soviet memory cultures—a term used here explicitly in order to avoid invoking the idea of a culturally coherent social space, but rather to denote all the different forms and modes of recalling the past enacted by a broad range of different actors, at times openly competing with each other. In an attempt to carve out the specific shape of these interventions, I will begin with an outline of the main achievements and lines of argument in the impressive number of recent studies that have explored the dynamics of remembering the Second World War, usually referred to as the Great Patriotic War in post-Soviet Russia. I will then present an overview of the contributions to this volume.

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Memory Makers of the Great Patriotic War

Curator Agency and Visitor Participation in Soviet War Museums during Stalinism

Anne E. Hasselmann

Abstract

In the wake of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Soviet museum curators began to establish a museal depiction of the war. This article analyzes these early beginnings of Soviet war commemoration and the curtailing of its surprising heterogeneity in late Stalinism. Historical research has largely ignored the impact of Soviet museum workers (muzeishchiki) on the evolution of Russian war memory. Archival material from the Red Army Museum, now renamed the Central Museum of the Armed Forces, in Moscow and the Belarus Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk documents the unfolding of locally specific war exhibitions which stand in stark contrast to the later homogenized official Soviet war narrative. Yet war memory was not created unilaterally by the curators. Visitors also participated in its making, as the museum guestbooks demonstrate. As “sites of commemoration and learning,” early Soviet war exhibitions reveal the agency of the muzeishchiki and the involvement of the visitors in the “small events” of memory creation.

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“Presentism” Versus “Path Dependence”?

Reflections on the Second World War in Russian Textbooks of the 1990s

Serguey Ehrlich

Abstract

In the fifteen Russian textbooks of the 1990s examined in this article, the Second World War is subject to three levels of reflection: language, narrative templates, and the representation of contested events. The language used in the textbooks represents an amalgam of Soviet propagandistic clichés and uncritically adopted Western terminology. These textbooks also retain the same “schematic narrative template” of the Second World War, based on references to the expulsion of foreign enemies, found in Soviet textbooks. Significant transformations can be observed only in the representation of events, in which the authors’ harsh criticism of Stalin's crimes comes to the fore. Yet these superficial changes did not alter the basic structures of history learning, which was one of the main reasons why working through the past during the Yeltsin era almost failed.

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“Russia My History”

A Hi-Tech Version of an Old History Textbook

Olga Konkka

Abstract

This article analyzes the presentation of the Second World War in the multimedia “history parks” of the Russian educational project “Russia My History.” In these exhibition complexes, modern digital technologies offer visitors a “revolutionary” way to discover Russian history. The article first explores the history and conception of the Russia My History project, as a pedagogical tool, a digital museum, a historical narrative, and a response to current memory policies. Next, I focus on the exhibition dedicated to the Second World War (specifically, on its technical, visual, structural, lexical, and historical aspects) and assess the impact of the digitalization and commodification of history on the traditionally rigid official Russian memory of the war. I attempt to show that instead of exploiting digital technologies to develop new approaches to the history of the war, the exhibition neglects the potential of multimedia and provides a narrative close to the one used in Soviet and post-Soviet textbooks.