Coping with History-Based Propaganda: International Project Begins in Ukraine

DVV International Ukraine and the All-Ukrainian Association of History Teachers, "Nova Doba," are implementing a project to improve history teaching practices in schools. The project includes a history competition for pupils of senior grades and the development of an educational course for (future) schoolteachers.

Russian war against Ukraine showed how authoritarian political regimes use history to justify wars of aggression. But the Russian propaganda based on historical manipulations did not appear in 2022. With the imperial and Soviet historical narratives at hand, the Russian political elite turned to history to assert their nation’s civilizational superiority right after the demise of the USSR. Their propaganda penetrated Ukraine through films, animation, novels, and various commemorative practices, such as Victory Day celebrations. As a result, Russian visions of history had taken hold of the Ukrainian public space long before the fully-fledged war.

Aggressive use of history by Russian propaganda also challenges school education, forcing teachers to look for a practical solution to cope with its damaging influence. Moreover, remote learning encouraging young people to explore online sources requires high-quality media education both for students and teachers. Therefore, our project team strives to provide school history teachers and their students with materials covering history-based political propaganda. Combining school history with memory studies and media education, the project team will work during 2023-24 to develop a course unpacking the issue of history's instrumentalization while offering tools for working with history-based propaganda in schools.

The project is part of the international initiative "A Toolkit for Critical Teaching of History," implemented by a consortium of non-governmental organizations in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine with the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. The project's main partners are DVV International, Koerber Foundation, and the international network of EUSTORY.

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