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Article

Официальный исторический нарратив как элемент политики идентичности в России: от 1990-х к 2010-м годам

The article explores a particular aspect of the identity policy of the Russian state – an evolution of the official historical narrative describing a genealogy of the nation. It is highly important for legitimization of the political regime as an “explanation” of continuity between collective past, present and future. The research is based on the theoretical frame that conceptualizes a historical component of identity politics and reveals factors that influence its structure in the contemporary Russian context.

The author argues that there were two large periods in the development of the official narrative based on different conceptions – that of “the new Russia” and of “the thousand-years-long Russia”.  These periods roughly coincide with presidency of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin – Dmitry Medvedev. The construction of the new narrative maintaining the Russian identity was complicated by a necessity to match two principally different cultural models of political work at the past – that of “coping with a difficult past / collective trauma” and aimed at consolidation of the nation / nation-building. There were different approaches to this political task in different periods. In the 1990s the official narrative had integrated discourse about “trauma and crime” as a part of legitimization of the post-Soviet transformation, but it could not manage to consolidate the nation. In the 2000s the choice was made for apologetic principle of work with collective past which resulted into the eclectic construction that marginalize the topic of “trauma and crime”. In the 2010s we can see some attempts to make the official narrative more consistent which brings ambivalent results. On the one hand, in the context of the current international conflict the apologetic conception of the national past is securitized as a “weapon” against the foreign and domestic enemies. On the other hand, a new round of discussions about the national history opens some windows of opportunities for actors struggling for “coping with difficult past” agenda.