“History Speaks Our Language!” A Comparative Study of Historical Narratives in Soviet and Post-Soviet School Textbooks in the Caucasus, by Vladimir Rouvinski

Vladimir Rouvinski
Internationale Schulbuchforschung
Vol. 29, No. 3, Europa – Peripherie Ost/Südost / Europe – The Eastern/South-Eastern Periphery (2007), pp. 235-257

Long before the demise of the USSR, Western Sovietologists had noted the fact that in the Soviet Union the official version of history changed frequently. However, there is something that has passed almost unnoticed by the majority of scholars; namely, the debate about which version of history should be considered as true, and accepted as the official version to be included in school textbooks in the Soviet autonomous republics. This paper deals with several aspects of this process and its legacy by examining the way in which the distant past is presented in Soviet and post-Soviet school history textbooks. The author reveals the conflicting ethnic historical narratives in the textbooks of rival ethnic groups, focusing on the use of linguistic arguments to link ethnic identity to the territory controlled by the ‘titular’ ethnic group, and on the justification of the historical legitimacy of claims to territories by neighboring rival ethnic groups.

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Vladimir Rouvinski is Director, Laboratory of Politics and International Relations (PoInt), and Associate Professor, Department of Political Studies, at Icesi University in Cali, Colombia. He graduated from Irkutsk State University, in Russia, majoring in history and international relations, and he also holds MA and PhD in International Development and Cooperation from Hiroshima University in Japan. Before joining Icesi University in 2007, Vladimir worked with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), education and research institutions in Russia, Japan, and Colombia, and he speaks Russian, English, and Spanish. Vladimir’s area of expertise is Russian and Asian countries relations with Latin America. 

See also: The Policy of Ethnic Enclosure: A Study of the Role of Language in Ethnic Rivalries in the Caucasus, by Vladimir Rouvinski




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