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“Do It the Russian Way”: Narratives of the Russian Revolution in European History Textbooks

  • Marharyta Fabrykant

Abstract

The article presents the results of narrative analysis of contemporary European history textbooks’ coverage of the 1917 Russian Revolution. The sample consists of 101 textbooks from 22 European states, published between 2000 and 2015 and currently in use in secondary and high schools. The results show that the Russian Revolution, unlike most other events in Russia's history, is narrated as a story not about Russianness, but about shared European historical experiences and social issues. The article discusses the implications of this way of narrating the Russian Revolution for the perceived logic of European history.

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References

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2. Andrei Shleifer and Daniel Treisman, “A Normal Country: Russia after Communism” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 19, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 151–74.

3. Thomas Ambrosio, Authoritarian Backlash: Russian Resistance to Democratization in the Former Soviet Union (London, 2016).

4. Stuart J. Foster and Keith Crawford, eds., What Shall We Tell the Children?: International Perspectives on School History Textbooks (Greenwich, 2006).

5. For a recent discussion of interrelations between the Russian backwardness and the Russian Revolution, see Derek Offord, “From National Backwardness to Revolutionary Leadership: Alexander Herzen’s Book On the Development of Revolutionary Ideas in Russia” in Rachel Hammersley, ed., Revolutionary Moments: Reading Revolutionary Texts (London, 2015), 117.

6. See Eugen Weber. “Revolution? Counterrevolution? What Revolution?,” Journal of Contemporary History 9, no. 2 (April 1974): 3–47 for the discussion of the blurred distinction between a revolution and its opposite.

7. Mark R. Beissinger, “Soviet Empire as ‘Family Resemblance’,” Slavic Review 65, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 294–303.

This work is an output of a research project implemented as a part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE). The primary sources for the research were accessed due to the support from the library of the Georg Eckert Institute for Textbook Research.

1. Peter Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia’s Continuum of Crisis, 1914–1921. (Cambridge, Mass., 2002).

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Slavic Review
  • ISSN: 0037-6779
  • EISSN: 2325-7784
  • URL: /core/journals/slavic-review
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