The 'Ethnic Other' in Ukrainian history textbooks: The case of Russia and the Russians

J.G. Janmaat

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    This paper examines portrayals of Russia and the Russians in two generations of Ukrainian history textbooks. It observes that the textbooks are highly condemning of Ukraine's main ethnic other in the guise of foreign ruler: the tsarist authorities and the Soviet regime are always attributed dubious and malicious intentions even if there is appreciation for some of their policies. By contrast, the books, certainly those of the second generation, refrain from presenting highly biased accounts of the ethnic other as a national group (i.e. Russians). Instances where negative judgements do fall onto Russians are counterbalanced by excerpts criticizing ethnic Ukrainians or highlighting conflicting interests within the Ukrainian ethnic group. The negative appraisal of the ethnic other as foreign ruler is clearly instrumental for the nation-building project as it sustains a discourse legitimating the existence of Ukraine as independent state. However, recent trends in history education, the paper concludes, suggest that the importance of nurturing patriotism as a national policy objective is diminishing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)307-324
    Number of pages18
    JournalCompare : A Journal of Comparative and International Education
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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