Visuals in History Textbooks – War Memorials in Soviet and Post-Soviet School Education from 1945 to 2021

Mischa Gabowitsch (2023)

Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society, 15(1), pp. 99-128. Open access

Abstract. This article is based on a bibliographical data set of over 2,600 history textbooks from the post-1945 Soviet Union and eleven out of its fifteen successor states, including books on international, national, and regional or local history. Among these, it analyzes the illustrations used in 450 books that cover the period of the Second World War. Arguing against a reduction of history-related visuals to a “narrative,” this article seeks to contribute to analyzing the visual grammar of history textbooks. It does so by drawing on notions of familiarity developed in French pragmatic sociology and identifies visual techniques used to make pupils approach war memorials in a mode of familiarity rather than critical analysis. Decontextualized presentations of monuments located outside the former Soviet Union turn them into timeless icons experienced via familiarity-as-recognition; monu- ments shown with surrounding landscapes or on maps turn them into intimately known markers of a Sovietized local identity.

Lien / Link