Dr. Nina Frieß and Dr. Félix Krawatzek

History for Young People: Historical Narratives and Perceptions

Dr. Nina Frieß and Dr. Félix Krawatzek

History for Young People: Historical Narratives and Perceptions

n-ost / Simone Brunner

Project description

Historical narratives are probably the most important resource for the formation of collective identities. How a group – a family, a region or a nation – tells its own story helps to shape that group’s self-perceptions and plays a part in determining which political and social actions it considers appropriate. Authority figures in politics and society therefore have an interest in conveying images of history that prompt the ‘right’ reactions. Children and teenagers are a key target group, as their attitudes and values are still malleable, or so it is believed.

In this interdisciplinary project, we identify and explore the historical narratives to which young people in Russia are exposed. The focus is on the representation of twentieth-century Russian/Soviet history. We study how the Russian past is narrated in recent history books, literature and films, which events are foregrounded, and which are left out. We also carry out representative surveys and focus group interviews to investigate young people’s real-world perceptions of history.

A joined-up approach linking cultural studies and the social sciences is often called for but rarely implemented. That is something that we aim to change with this project. We hope to gain new insights into the logic underlying the production of historical narratives and how they take effect. Furthermore, by applying a comparative approach to categorise developments in Russia, our aim is to deepen our understanding of the impacts of the history policy measures that have been widely adopted.

Key questions

  • How do young people position themselves vis-à-vis the historical narratives to which they are exposed in Russian culture, society and politics?
  • Under what circumstances do young people question these narratives and when do they assimilate them?
  • How are young people’s perceptions of history influenced by cultural artefacts?
  • In what ways do cultural memory narratives coincide or conflict with young people’s perceptions of history?

Project coordination