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The Convolutions of Historical Politics

Edited by Alexei Miller and Maria Lipman

Publication Year: 2012

Thirteen essays by scholars from seven countries discuss the political use and abuse of history in the recent decades with particular focus on Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia as case studies), but also includes articles on Germany, Japan and Turkey, which provide a much needed comparative dimension. The main focus is on new conditions of political utilization of history in post-communist context, which is characterized by lack of censorship and political pluralism. The phenomenon of history politics became extremely visible in Central and Eastern Europe in the past decade, and remains central for political agenda in many countries of the regions. Each essay is a case study contributing to the knowledge about collective memory and political use of history, offering a new theoretical twist. The studies look at actors (from political parties to individual historians), institutions (museums, Institutes of National remembrance, special political commissions), methods, political rationale and motivations behind this phenomenon.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title page

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Copyright page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction. Historical Politics: Eastern European Convolutions in the 21st Century

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pp. 1-20

In the early 1980s, the new West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had a doctorate degree in history, made the revisiting of some key interpretations of the recent past a crucial element of his “moral and political pivot” policy. This...

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German History Politics and the National Socialist Past

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pp. 21-44

On November 10, 1988 the president of the West German Bundestag, Philipp Jenninger, gave a speech in the parliament to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass (Reichskristallnacht). During the speech, several members of parliament from the opposition—but also from the...

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Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance: A Ministry of Memory?

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pp. 45-58

Poland was late among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to establish a public institution to deal with the legacy of its Communist past. As elsewhere, the main reason for its establishment, and the most burning issue the institution was to tackle, was the operation of the Communist secret...

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Jedwabne, July 10, 1941: Debating the History of a Single Day

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pp. 59-90

On July 10, 1941, in the small town of Jedwabne some 150 kilometers northeast of Warsaw, a mass murder was committed. Most of the local Jewish population was led to a barn on the outskirts of the town and burned alive. Jedwabne, in the territory of Poland before 1939 and again after 1945, was occupied by the Soviet Union in September 1939 as a consequence of the dual Nazi-Soviet...

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The Memory of Trianon as a Political Instrument in Hungary Today

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pp. 91-116

Following the political change of 1989, history came to attract more and more attention in Hungary and every other post-Communist country in Central and Eastern Europe. The emerging cult of the national past created by politicians derived not just from the negative, Communist attitude which prevailed...

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The “Politics of History” as a Case of Foreign-Policy Making

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pp. 117-140

Changes in the configurations of political power are often accompanied by shifts in the priorities of specific policies, which in turn acquire catchy marketing labels. The Russian Perestroika or “sovereign democracy,” the Estonian “tiger leap,” or the British “big society,” while never exhausting the whole of the state’s politics, sometimes succeed in fastening short-term...

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The “Nationalization” of History in Ukraine

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pp. 141-174

Developments marking the “nationalization” of history/historiography in Ukraine in the late 1980s and early 1990s unfolded in a way that was basically quite similar to analogous processes in other post-Soviet republics.2 Historians initially focused their attention on historical “blank spots” that were found...

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The “Politics of Memory” and “Historical Policy” in Post-Soviet Moldova

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pp. 175-210

The connection between history, politics and “collective memory” in Eastern Europe is particularly complex, multi-layered and fragmented. This state of affairs led, among other things, to the active involvement of professional historians in various nation-building projects and, more broadly, in the politicization...

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Interventions: Challenging the Myths of Twentieth-Century Ukrainian History

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pp. 211-238

I was asked to reflect on my experiences as a challenger of nationalist historical myths, in this case, Ukrainian myths about traumatic aspects of the twentieth-century.1 By myths here I mean unexamined components of an ideologized version of history, articles of faith more than of reason. In this essay, I will first try to explain my motivations for challenging such myths...

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Caught Between History and Politics: The Experience of a Moldovan Historian Studying the Holocaust

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pp. 239-252

In 2003, while a visiting fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I managed to read Jan Gross’ Neighbors.1 Gross’ study is focused on a single event, which occurred on July 10, 1941, when in a Polish town, Jedwabne, local Poles murdered the entire local Jewish population—men, women...

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The Turns of Russian Historical Politics, from Perestroika to 2011 (Alexei Miller)

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pp. 253-278

The relationship between history and politics in Russia experienced many dramatic changes since the beginning of Perestroika over 25 years ago. One such dramatic U-turn began in 2009–2010. The purpose of this article is to analyze the causes of the surge of historical politics in Russia at the beginning of the 21st...

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Politics of History in Turkey: Revisionist Historiography’s Challenge to the Official Version of the Turkish War of Liberation (1919–1922)

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pp. 279-308

History writing has been highly politicized and closely monitored in Turkey, not only during the authoritarian founding period of the Republic (1923–1950) under the one-party dictatorship of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), but also in the sixty years since Turkey’s transition to multiparty democracy...

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The Politics of History in Contemporary Japan (Jeff Kingston)

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pp. 309-346

Japan’s shared history with Asia is a continuing source of tensions, recrimination and denial featuring inadequate efforts in Japan to acknowledge and atone for its imperial aggression in the region. As in many other countries, the shameful past is often minimized, mitigated, glorified and otherwise distorted...

List of Contributors

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pp. 347-348


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pp. 349-355

Back cover

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p. 364-364

E-ISBN-13: 9786155225468
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155225154

Page Count: 364
Publication Year: 2012