A vulnerable Russia: militarisation through anxiety in 1990s Russian historical textbooks

Edwards, A ORCID: 0000-0002-4679-4219 (2021) 'A vulnerable Russia: militarisation through anxiety in 1990s Russian historical textbooks.' Political Crossroads, 25 (1). pp. 5-24. ISSN 1323-5761

Official URL: https://doi.org/10.7459/pc/25.1.02


Russia’s military in the 1990s was physically and morally fragile. Culturally, however, the militarisation of society persisted because of the prominence of militarised discourses in various discursive spaces. Militarised themes were dominant in Russia’s historical education, with Russia’s vulnerability serving to underscore the militarisation of Russia’s youth during this period because it drew upon notions of paranoia and anxiety, which formed the foundations of Russian identity. This article examined 16 Russian historical textbooks published in the 1990s. Adopting Robert Sutherland’s schema for identifying ‘ways in which inherent ideologies are expressed’ in literature for children, including; ‘Politics of advocacy’ and ‘Politics of attack,’ this article found that Russia’s vulnerabilities were used to equip its youth with militarised worldviews. Historical victories were often framed as ‘victory despite weaknesses, because of the patriotic, united efforts of the Russian peoples. On the other hand, loss at war was often characterised by ‘unequal and heroic battle[s]’ followed by military reform, with emphasis on need to improve weapon procurement, combat readiness and strategy. Through these discourses, students were told that Russia would be safe and militaristically successful if 1) society remained united and 2) Russia’s military institution was technologically and strategically superior. These textbooks maintained the militarisation of society by sustaining the narrative that Russia constantly needed to defend itself, evidenced well with a historical trail of invasion from belligerent nations, where Russia has not always been able to defend itself.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Russia, Russian historical education, history textbooks, militarised discourses, militaristic-nationalistic worldviews, patriotism
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D890 Eastern Hemisphere
D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7459/pc/25.1.02
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2023 15:21
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2023 16:03
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/15155
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