The Use of History in Putin's Russia

by James C. Pearce

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There is much to like about Pearce's book, including the way he deftly and succinctly covers so much territory in easy-to-read prose, his analysis of the politics of history, and his coverage of the array of monuments and holidays that have appeared since the turn of this century. The standout sections of the book concern educational policies and the teaching of history in Putin's Russia. As Pearce notes, every schoolchild in Russia today has grown up entirely in the Putin era, making a study of the textbooks and assignments they have received an invaluable window into the uses of history. Pearce's interviews with history teachers and analysis of writing assignments are illuminating, for they reveal just how the state's goals are implemented on the ground but also the mixed view many teachers hold about the state's agenda.

Stephen M. Norris
Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Russian History
Director, Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies
Miami University

History is not just a study of past events, but a product and an idea for the modernisation and consolidation of the nation. ‘The Use of History in Putin’s Russia’ examines how the past is perceived in contemporary Russia and analyses the ways in which the Russian state uses history to create a broad coalition of consensus and forge a new national identity. Central to issues of governance and national identity, the Russian state utilises history for the purpose of state-building and reviving Russia’s national consciousness in the twenty-first century.

Assessing how history mediates the complex relationship between state and population, this book analyses the selection process of constructing and recycling a preferred historical narrative to create loyal, patriotic citizens, ultimately aiding its modernisation. Different historical spheres of Russian life are analysed in-depth including areas of culture, politics, education, and anniversaries. The past is not just a state matter, a socio-political issue linked to the modernisation process, containing many paradoxes. This book has wide-ranging appeal, not only for professors and students specialising in Russia and the former Soviet Space in the fields of History and Memory, International Relations, Educational Studies, and Intercultural Communication but also for policymakers and think-tanks.

List of Diagrams, Images and Tables
List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1 The Problems of History in Putin’s Russia
Chapter 2 Russia and Russianness: a Multi-History
Chapter 3 The Politics of History in Putin’s Russia
Chapter 4 Education Policy and History: Modified Patriotism
Chapter 5 Teaching History and Patriotism in Putin’s Russia
Chapter 6 The Use of Anniversaries and Memorabilia in Putin’s Russia

Conclusion: Wet Cement in a New Wine Bottle

James C. Pearce completed his PhD in 2018 at Anglia Ruskin University. Pearce has conducted research in the Russian Federation since 2015 on matters related to historical memory in the public space and education, the discipline of history as well as Russian foreign policy in the twenty-first century. He has taught Political Science, History, and International Relations at three institutions in the United Kingdom and Russia, and presented his research at multiple international conferences in two languages. James currently teaches in Moscow and is developing his research on the role of historical memory in Russian elections, and Russian students’ attitudes towards the new historical narratives.

Patriotism, narrative, state, modernisation, memory, textbooks, anniversaries