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The Convolutions of Historical Politics

Edited by Alexei Miller, Visiting Professor, CEU, Budapest, Hungary and Maria Lipman, Editor-in-Chief of Pro et Contra Quarterly, Carnegie Foundation, Moscow office

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.

Contents: Alexei Miller: Introduction. Historical Politics: Eastern European Convolutions in the 21st Century Stefan Berger: German History Politics and the National Socialist Past Dariusz Stola: Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance: A Ministry of Memory? Maciej Janowski: Jedwabne, July 10, 1941: Debating the History of a Single Day Gábor Gyáni: The Memory of Trianon as a Political Instrument in Hungary Today Alexander Astrov: Georgiy The ‘Politics of History’ as a Case of Foreign-Policy Making Kasianov: The ‘Nationalization’ of History in Ukraine Andrei Cusco: The ‘Politics of Memory’ and ‘Historical Policy’ in Post-Soviet Moldova John-Paul Himka: Interventions: Challenging the Myths of Twentieth-Century Ukrainian History Diana Dumitru: Caught Between History and Politics: The Experience of a Moldovan Historian Studying the Holocaust Alexei Miller: The Turns of Russian Historical Politics, from Perestroika to 2011 Şener Aktürk: Politics of History in Turkey: Revisionist Historiography’s Challenge to the Official Version of the Turkish War of Independence Jeff Kingston: The Politics of History in Contemporary Japan List of Contributors Index

This volume provides essential insights into the enduring importance of the contested past in institutionalized democracies like Germany and Japan, in fragile democracies in Eastern Europe, and in hybrid regimes like Russia. It is a very timely book: if the current crisis in European integration deepens, it may undermine the advances in historical reconciliation in 'Old Europe' at the national and inter-state levels and further exacerbate the politicization of history in Eastern Europe and Russia. Acrucial method to offset this threat is to understand the complex sources and character of divisive historical politics in the post-communist era. This outstanding work provides the conceptual tools and empirical detail to accomplish this essential task.
—Thomas Sherlock, Professor of Politics, United States Military Academy,West Point

This is the first thoroughly conceived analysis of practices, actors and institutions of historical politics in Eastern and Central Europe. Based on long term research and seen against the background of the evolution of politics of history in some other major countries of the world in the second half of the twentieth century, this remarkable collection of articles is to be highly recommended to all those who are painfully aware of the particular complexity of the link between history, politics and ‘collective memory’ in post-Soviet Eastern and Central Europe.
—Jutta Scherrer, Directeur d’études, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris

The Convolutions of Historical Politics is the first comparative study of the politics of memory in contemporary Eastern Europe. Putting a range of East European case studies in a wider pan-European context, this excellent collection of essays shows how and why history politics has recently re-emerged as a major element of foreign and domestic policies in Eastern Europe. Contributors explore the ways in which multiple agents and institutions construct and disseminate historical narratives not only within, but also across national boundaries. The essays highlight both broad common trends, as well different specific approaches to instrumental uses of history, and thereby make a major contribution to the study of memory politics from a transnational perspective.
—Vera Tolz, Sir William Mather Professor of Russian Studies, the University of Manchester, UK

362 pages, cloth
ISBN: 978-615-5225-15-4
$60.00 /€45.00 / £38.00

"This collection of essays of great interest to historians and political scientists because of its efforts to examine 'actors, institutions and political strategies involved in political use/abuse of historical issues and collective memory'. Readers learn in particular about the efforts of states with varying degrees of democratic pluralism to go beyond simple intervention in textbook writing.
This volume is guaranteed to spur specialists and general readers alike to reflect on the ways in which history is mobilized to serve different ends as well as on the limits of its manipulation." - The Russian Review

"While not all the pieces in this edited work directly challenge the common causal presumption that mnemonic narratives precede their political utilisation, the idea nevertheless constitutes a powerful thematic touchstone. In this paradigm elites become strategic creators of historical discourse, and not merely consumers of its organic unfolding. However, allowing that he above constitutes an accurate portrayal of what has been taking place throughout the erstwhile Warsaw Pact and Soviet Bloc states since the early to mid-2000s, the question of why Janus-faced polictics rose to prominence precisely when they did remains.
One can only hope that this fine work portends a rising tide of similar efforts that will consider seriously the complex dynamics behind the rise to promincence of historical politics in the postcommunist milieu." - Europe-Asia Studies