Does history education really matter? The comparative study of Japanese and Russian history textbooks ca. 1997-2010

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Kolesova, Elena
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Conference Contribution - Oral Presentation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Russian Federation
history textbooks
Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905)
national identity
Kolesova, E. (2014, June). Does History Education Really Matter? The Comparative Study of Japanese and Russian History Textbooks ca. 1997-2010. Paper presented at International Symposium: Global Education around the World - Should World History and Geography become compulsory subjects?, Aoyama University, Tokyo, Japan.
The school history textbook is gaining critical scholarly attention globally as a contested medium of conflicting ideologies and interests. At issue are the roles and the consequences of education and textbooks in influencing the ethos of future citizens. The Russian Federation and Japan are two nations that continue to receive strong criticism over their history textbooks from international and domestic critics for using them to legitimise the ruling government, rather than to foster critical understanding of the past. At the same time, both nations equally face criticism from rightist groups in their own countries for not using history textbooks well enough to legitimise the ruling elites, state power and to promote patriotism. This article provides comparative analyses of narrative strategies and ideologies used in 44 history textbooks, 22 from each country, approved by Russian and Japanese Ministries of Education between 1997 and 2010. Under scrutiny are the causes, the course and the consequences of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), the first military conflict of the 20th century, where the interests of major political players, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Japan collided. The main question is how do the narratives of the Russo-Japanese War that students are exposed to at school today reflect the different current readings of histories in each nation?
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