History on the Frontline of Identity Politics

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-11-65-76

I. Semenenko (semenenko@imemo.ru), 
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation 

Abstract. Interpretations of historic events are an important part of the contemporary political discourse in the EU countries. Politics of memory have become a key issue in identity politics in “new” Europe in the process of nation building and are on the rise in “old” Europe where nation-states, regions aspiring for autonomy and supranational structures promote diverse historic narratives. Attempts to bring together and reconcile different interpretations of the past in school textbooks are undertaken on the EU level and sponsored by several member states. The leader here is Germany, a country where politics of memory are an inherent part of the political discourse. A revision of national “big narratives” and attempts to take in positions of various groups of the contemporary multicultural societies is a phenomenon of the 21st century. A persistent need for effective mechanisms to maintain social stability is enhanced by mass discontent over the prospects of the European integration process and by a rise of “new nationalism” in some of the better off regions of “old” Europe. Education plays a key role in the formation of the European memory culture, but a consensus on values needed to promote a shared culture is undermined by the current difficulties of integration processes due to Brexit and to contention over migration regulation. This brings in diverse and sometimes non-compatible priorities of memory politics onto the national agenda (as in the case of Catalonia and Spain), and the “struggle for identity” becomes a key political issue for communities aspiring for more autonomy and independence. Opinion polls, questionnaire surveys, school curricula and expert assessments of textbook contents provide the empirical basis for this study. The author demonstrates how reinterpretations of history and newly constructed images of the past are used to reconsider the governance agenda and to legitimize “new nationalism” in the European public opinion. 

Keywords: nation-state, national identity, identity politics, “new nationalism”, political space, European Union, region, education, history textbooks, historical narratives, politics of memory 


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For citation:
Semenenko I. History on the Frontline of Identity Politics. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 11, pp. 65-76. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-11-65-76

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