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K.Kakitelashvili:Instrumentalization of History and History Teaching in Post-Soviet Georgia

During the last several decades history lost his reputation as a holder of the “truth” about the past. It is increasingly viewed as an interpretation which is changing according to the political circumstances and ideologies. One of the main concerns of studies has become different versions of the same historical periods and events existing not only in diverse societies but within the same society as well. The issue of interrelation between these versions and political and ideological conditions are stressed. Thus, the problem of instrumentalization of history is brought into the foreground.

Since history is considered as a subject of manipulation the important role it plays in the formation of collective consciousness is pointed out permanently. History is an essential part of people’s everyday life and at the same time represents a powerful instrument of legitimation in the hands of political leaders.

Conceptions of history teaching and textbooks created on their basis represent one of the most important tools for shaping of collective historical consciousness. In social sciences and humanities textbooks no longer are considered as a merely collection of objective knowledge. According to Hanna Schissler, there is inevitable political dimention to what knowledge is being imparted in school books. It can be extracted from textbooks what a society believes should be handed on to the young as part of their historical consciousness. Information presented in the textbooks is often used as an ideological instrument for legitimation of existing political and social order.

The paper aims to analyze the history teaching conceptions and national history textbooks in post-Soviet Georgia. In accordance with the different challenges Georgian society has been facing during this period, they represent different visions about strategies, objects, and aims of history teaching. Important aspects such as national idea, ethnic minorities, post-Soviet conflicts and other issues are reflected in a different ways as well.

In the 1990s, after the breakup of the Soviet Union among the main problems of Republic of Georgia were to build an independent state, set new orientations and (re)construct national identity. In this regard all answers to all questions thought to be found in history. Consequently, national history became the central concern. As it characterizes hard periods of transition uniqueness of the national culture and history became a very sensitive issue. The ethnic conception of history created in the 19th century was reemerged. In such kind of representation of history there was left no place for ethnic minorities which resulted in their marginalization.

After the “Rose Revolution” fostering of the civil integration and building of civil society has became the declared challenges of Georgia. Focus has been shifted from ethnic to civil identity. The notion of the ‘multiethnic Georgian nation’ has been introduced. Accordingly, the conception of the history teaching has been changed. Legitimation of the multiethnic but integrated Georgian state and strengthening civil consciousness has become the main concern of history teaching. Exclusive version of history was replaced by inclusive one - the ethnic minorities appeared in textbooks in order to show their participation in Georgian history and their role in the building of Georgian state.

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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