About the Project

Russian Identity in the Media and Identity Politics in Eastern Europe is a research project at the Aleksanteri Institute during the period 2010-2012. The project conducts multidisciplinary academic research on various manifestations of national identity that have become apparent in the territories of the former Eastern bloc. The project has two thematic scopes which are interlinked with each other, and whose findings are constantly compared.

On the one hand, the project investigates how the Russian media function and construct national identity. The principal hypothesis is that this functioning and constructing occurs within particular historically and culturally defined limits of the Russian tradition of “The Great Patriotic War”. The central issues of this scope are:

How the cornerstone of Russian national identity, “The Great Patriotic War” – formed during the Soviet era, and strongly strengthened during Vladimir Putin´s reign – is represented in and by the Russian media?

To what extent does the larger culture of Russian history, produced by media images of this war, define limits for freedom of expression in Russia, that is, how this war is allowed to be presented? What are these limits, how do they appear in various representations of the war, as well as in the related topics?

On the other hand, discussion of this war with its memories links Russia to a larger European discussion on Europe’s future. In this respect, project also investigates the interplay between Russia’s and the enlarged EU’s history projects, regarding their identity. With expertise in the interpretative history of relations between Russia, Finland, and the Baltic Sea countries after the fall of the Communist bloc, the projects seeks to examine uses of history as a political weapon, focusing its attention on the use of history as an instrument of identity politics in Eastern Europe. The central issue of this scope is:

How do political projects concerned with Russia´s and EU´s politically constructed identity developed in dialogue? What are the shared and diametrically opposed interpretations of the WWII legacy? Through these questions it is also possible to analyze  various aspects of Russian identity constructed in and by the media, and relation of these aspects to international processes, more specifically, the transnational process of Europeanness supported by the EU.

The project participates in the international research project Memory at War (MAW) led by the University of Cambridge, which will be conducted by five universities (King’s College of the University of Cambridge, University of Bergen, University of Groningen, University of Tartu and The Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki) in the period 2010-2012. The consortium investigates the debates over interpretations of history especially in Russia, Poland, and Ukraine during recent years.

In addition, the project actively collaborates with distinguished scholars related to the theme and other cases of history and identity politics. The project at the Aleksanteri Institute has received funding from HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) as a member of the MAW- project, and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.