Discourse Analysis of School History Textbooks in Russia: Representation of the Afghanistan War
This chapter reviews the representations of the Afghanistan war in school textbooks published in Russia. The authors define school textbooks as a document of public cultural memory showing what it is ‘necessary’ to know about the past. The chapter demonstrates the representations of the Afghanistan war in school textbooks published from 1990 to 2010.
The sample included 16 history textbooks. For the analysis, we divided the textbooks into four groups. The division was based on presidential transitions and therefore includes textbooks for the presidencies of Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev. The discourse analysis by Laclau and Mouffe (2001) was applied as an analytical framework.
We reveal the diversity of the representations of the Afghanistan war in different political periods. In Gorbachev’s presidency, the Afghanistan war was represented through a discourse of Soviet political dissidents. In the Yeltsin era, a discourse of Soviet political dissidents remained, but the field of discursiveness was significantly expanded. Additional discourses included the public discourse of the first years of post-Soviet Russia and the official discourse of the Soviet Union. Finally, in Putin’s time, the field of discursiveness was reduced; there was no change in the Medvedev period.