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Historical Narrative as a Challenge for Nation-States
Analysis and Forecasting. IMEMO Journal

Historical Narrative as a Challenge for Nation-States

DOI: 10.20542/afij-2023-3-14-34
© Alexey V. FENENKO, 2023
Received 28.07.2023.
Revised 15.09.2023.
Accepted 27.10.2023.
Alexey V. FENENKO (, ORCID: 0000-0003-0493-2596,
School of World Politics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskiye Gory, 1-52, Moscow 119991, Russian Federation.
Over the past forty years, the concepts of ‘historical narrative’ and ‘historical discourse’ became present in historical science. The former means the interpretation of a text by its author or narrator, whereas the latter stands for a set of conceptually related historical texts integrated into a particular historical context. Analysing the theory of historical discourse, modern scholars came to the conclusion that the contemporary historiography of nation-states (national and territorial states) is nothing but a certain discourse. This scientific discourse broadens and/or forms a corresponding sociopolitical discourse, and it also brings structure to the national (national and state) self-identity of a political nation. New scientific findings and shifts in the political environment lead to certain changes in this discourse, and these changes may have hard-to-predict consequences. The narrative of the presentation and interpretation of national history, which emerged in the early 19th century, was created for the purposes of a specific nation-state and it was integrated into the compulsory education. Therefore, with the use of the historical discourse theory, the author considers two interrelated problems: 1) the impact of ‘historical discourse’ on the formation of national (national and territorial) identity; 2) the impact of ‘historical discourse’ on the position of the state in the system of international relations. The author goes on to show three key types of historical discourse based on the example of different countries, both Western and not: the so-called problematic (France, Britain), constructed (Italy, Germany) and selected (Russia, China). The author makes it evident that nation-states in modern political theory seem as a constant, coming from medieval even. Meanwhile, the formation of nation-states is incomplete and for its completion both reforming of existing national history discourses and creating new ones are required.


About the author:
Alexey V. FENENKO, Doct. Sci. (Polit.), Professor, Chair of International Security, School of World Politics.
Competing interests: no potential competing financial or non-financial interest was reported by the author.
Funding: no funding was received for conducting this study.

For citation:

Fenenko A. Historical Narrative as a Challenge for Nation-States. Analysis & Forecasting. Journal of IMEMO, 2023, no 3, pp. 14-34.

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