Although in the late 1980s people in the USSR and Poland were shocked when they learned just how far the Party had systematically distorted the past for political and ideological reasons, few today would be surprised to read that “Soviet-type” regimes had sponsored circumscribed and corrupted versions of national history. Accordingly, this book does not review the authorized Polish and Soviet-Russian elite accounts of Ukrainian history merely to illustrate their inadequacy and to condemn the mendacity of the regime that sponsored them. Rather, Shaping Identity in Eastern Europe and Russia surveys the origins and evolution of official versions of Ukraine’s past to illustrate how historical writing and interpretative change occurred in Soviet-type systems. It traces the peregrinations of ideas from Party resolutions to survey histories and studies how the administrative bureaucracy kept scholars within predefined interpretive guidelines. The book also shows that, despite the nominally monolithic ideological structure, historians in these countries did express different opinions, and that after Stalin’s death those who placed facts above theory were able to influence, if not change, official interpretations. Although Marxist-Leninist regimes had disintegrated in Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, by 1991, an examination of the methods of thought control, conditions of scholarship, language, and deductivist logic characteristic of Soviet-type systems has relevance for the 1990s.
KeywordsSurvey History National History Soviet Bloc Thought Control Historical Writing
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