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Continuity and Change in Post-Soviet Historiography

The Case of Belarus
  • Rainer Lindner
Part of the International Council for Central and East European Studies book series (ICCEES)

Abstract

One of the main options for a post-totalitarian identity is the concept of nation. This is especially important among the intellectual elite of non-dominant ethnic groups or so-called ‘small people’ that were absorbed into empires or multi-ethnic states. Patriotic or even nationalistic identities break through under conditions of nominal independence. This is most obvious in the texts of historians, writers, politicians and other relevant producers of identity and ideology. Facing the loss of the previous identity, with its quasi-theoretical basis, post-imperial historians become the great white hope of their people to find a new spring of identity in national history. Moreover, they are confronted by the demand for a written past which is usable for explaining the present and predicting the future.

Keywords

National History National Conception Historical Consciousness Revolutionary Movement Historical Writing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Michael Confino, ‘Present Events and the Representation of the Past: Some Current Problems in Russian Historical Writing’, Cahiers du Monde Russe, Vol.35, No.4 (October-December 1994), pp.839–68 (p. 843).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Gerhard Brunn, ‘Historical Consciousness and Historical Myths’, in Andreas Kappeler (ed.), The Formation of National Elites: Comparative Studies on Governments and Non-dominant Ethnic Groups in Europe, 1850–1940 (Aldershot, 1992), Vol.6, pp.327–38.Google Scholar
  3. On the ‘invention of history’ see Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London, 1983);Google Scholar
  4. Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford, 1983); E. J. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger (eds), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983);Google Scholar
  5. E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, 1990).Google Scholar
  6. On Belarus see Markus Osterrieder, ‘Von der Sakralgemeinschaft zur modernen Nation. Die Entstehung eines National-albewußseins unter Russen, Ukrainern und Weißrußenen in Lichte der Thesen Benedict Andersons’, in E. Schmidt-Hartmann, Formen des nationalen Bewußtseins im Lichte zeitgenössischer Nationlismustheorien (Munich, 1994), pp.197–232.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    See Henadz Sahanovich, ‘National Character of History as a Science’, Belarusian Historical Review, Vol.1, 1994, pp.5–14 (p. 11) (in Belarusian).Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    An outline of this conception was given by the director of the Institute of History, Belarusian Academy of Sciences, M. P. Kaschuk, ‘Natsyyanalnaya kantseptsyya historyi Belarusi: Asnounyya padykody’, Histarychnaya navuka i histarychnaya adukatsyya u Respublitsy Belarus. Novyya kantseptsyi i padykody, Vol.1, Historyya Belarusi (Minsk, 1994), pp.3–10. For further information see Rainer Lindner, ‘Nationsbildung durch Nationalgeschichte. Probleme der aktuellen Geschichtsdiskussion in Weißrußland’, Osteuropa, Vol.44, No.6, 1994, pp.578-90; and Astrid Sahm, ‘Politsche Konstruktionsversuche weißrussischer ldentität. Zur Bedeutung des Rückgriffs auf Geschichte für die unabgeschlossene weißrussiche Nationsbildung’, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas (JfGOE), Vol.42, No.4, 1994, pp.541–61.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    Early works include Takayuki Ito (ed.), Facing Up to the Past: Soviet Historiography under Perestroika (Sapporo, 1989);Google Scholar
  10. R. W. Davies, Soviet History in the Gorbachev Revolution (London, 1989);Google Scholar
  11. Dietrich Geyer (ed.), Die Umwertung der Geschichte (Göttingen, 1991).Google Scholar
  12. 7.
    See Orest Subtelny, ‘Die gegenwärtige Situation der ukrainischen Historiographic: Ein Überblick’, in Guido Hausmann and Andreas Kappeler (eds), Ukraine: Gegenwart und Geschichte eines neuen Staates (Baden-Baden, 1993), pp.350–69.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    See Voprosy istorii, 1963, No.3 pp.120–25. Authors from Moscow advised their colleagues from Minsk that it was not necessary for them to ‘bow down’ in this manner. On non-Russian Soviet historiography and Soviet historiography on nonRussian nationalities before Brezhnev, see Lowell Tillett, The Great Friendship: Soviet Historians on the Non-Russian Nationalities (Chapel Hill, NC: 1969);Google Scholar
  14. Albrecht Martiny, ‘Das Verhältnis von Politik und Geschichtsschreibung in der Historiographie der sowjetischen Nationalitäten seit den sechziger Jahren’, JfGOE, Vol.27, No.2, 1979, pp.238–72. For the perestroika era and the rewriting of history of the former Soviet nationalities, see Uwe Halbach, ‘Die Nationalitätenfrage: Kontinuität und Explosivität’, in Dietrich Geyer (ed.), Die Umwertung der sowjetischen Geschichte (Göttingen, 1991), pp.210–37.Google Scholar
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    See Bohdan Nahaylo and Victor Swoboda, Soviet Disunion: A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR (New York, 1990), pp.210–37.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rainer Lindner

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