A New Short Course? A. V. Filippov and the Russian State's Search for a "Usable Past" (Ex Tempore: Toward a New Orthodoxy? the Politics of History in Russia Today)
Kritika 2009, Fall, 10, 4
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History textbooks have long played an unusually political role in Russo-Soviet society, serving as a mechanism for indoctrination from above and a metaphor for authoritarian heavy-handedness for those below. If texts by N. M. Karamzin and D. I. Ilovaiskii epitomized this tension during the 19th and early 20th centuries, they were replaced during the early Soviet period with similarly controversial texts by M. N. Pokrovskii, Emel'ian Iaroslavskii, and A. V. Shestakov. This process culminated in 1938 with the launch of the infamous Short Course on the History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), which reigned over Soviet society for nearly two decades until it was pilloried in 1956 by N. S. Khrushchev as a symbol of the excesses of the Stalin regime. Although subsequent textbooks never acquired their predecessor's notoriety, they too ruled unchallenged over Soviet educational institutions until 1991. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that this monopoly gave way to a much looser system in which a variety of officially approved titles vied with one another for sales within a newly competitive public school textbook market. The curricular diversity of this new period is illustrated by the fact that in 2007 as many as 27 different textbooks were in use in classrooms across the Russian Federation. (1) But as the heterogeneity of the 1990s has been eclipsed in recent years by consolidationist tendencies under V. V. Putin and D. A. Medvedev, talk has again turned to the re-establishment of a single official account of the Russo-Soviet past in the public schools. Notable in this regard have been discussions surrounding the release of a controversial new teachers' manual, A. V. Filippov's The Contemporary History of Russia, 1945-2006, and a textbook derived from it for senior high schools by A. A. Danilov. (2) This essay examines the content of these new texts (particularly Filippov's), the circumstances under which they came to represent the new "official line" on the past, and the extent to which they raise the specter of a Short Course-like return to the dark days of state-sponsored indoctrination.
- Category: History
- Published: 22 September 2009
- Publisher: Slavica Publishers, Inc.
- Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
- Print Length: 17 Pages
- Language: English
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