The Politics of History As Transformative Force in Relations Between Russia and the Westent with the West

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
JWS - Room J15 (J375) (University of Glasgow)
George Soroka , Government, Harvard University
The politics of history, where contentious historical legacies between states are appropriated by present-day politicians to delimit ideological allies and adversaries, has become an increasingly prominent component of foreign policy among the post-communist states of Europe. However, although conflicting interpretations of the past have emerged as a key component of relations between Russia and its erstwhile Warsaw Pact satellites, this form of international identity politics is not just confined to this region (for example, it is also palpable in relations between South Korea, China and Japan). Consequently, this paper sets two main tasks for itself. First, it develops a generalizable theoretical basis for the salience of differing interpretations of the past in contemporary international relations based on two criteria: the regional stature of the states in question and their respective regime types. Second, it engages in an empirical study (utilizing content analysis of speeches, media interviews, and policy statements) of how changing perceptions of the Soviet Red Army’s role in WWII have been utilized to define and then discredit political opponents. Specifically, I focus on how post-communist Russia has since 2000 transformed the memory of WWII and the symbols surrounding it to legitimate Putin's regime and inform its foreign policy agenda.
  • CES 2017 Russia.docx (137.3 kB)