Parppei, Kati. Image Studies in Examining Shared Perceptions of the Past: Two Russian Cases

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For citation: Parppei, Kati. Image Studies in Examining Shared Perceptions of the Past: Two Russian Cases, in Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana. 2019. № 2. С. 15-36. DOI

Title of the article Image Studies in Examining Shared Perceptions of the Past: Two Russian Cases

Parppei, Kati Mari Johanna — Academy Research Fellow, Adjunct Professor, Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland; Life Member, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (UK), Scopus ID 36161985900, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the section  Commentarii / Articles
Year 2019 Issue  2 Pages  15-36
Type of article RAR Index UDK; BBK  

UDK 9(47)13; BBK 63.3(2)42

Index DOI  



The article was written under the Academy Research Fellow funding granted by the Academy of Finland.

Historical image studies have been used successfully in analysing, for instance, representations of «otherness». Despite of its certain restrictions, the approach can also be used in studying phenomena that are more complex. In this article, two recent case studies, both concerning Russian historiography and the formation of national narratives, are shortly discussed in order to ponder upon the applicability of the method in examining collective perceptions of the past. The first case is about the formation of the historiographical image of the borderland monastery of Valaam. The second one examines the development of the collective ideas concerning the battle of Kulikovo (1380). It can be said that in the image formation of Valaam, the emphasis is on spatiality, religion and contested frontier, whilst in the case of Kulikovo imagery, the ideas of temporality, national significance and active, unified resistance prevail. What is common for both case studies, however, is that the formation of the imagery has been intertwined with contemporary political issues of each given time. The process has had a full support of the power structures. Also, there is strong undercurrent of National Romanticist thinking connected to both of the cases. Both of the imageries have been formed anachronistically, in hindsight. Especially in the case of Kulikovo this phenomenon has a central role: the idea of the medieval battle as a crucial turning point is a prime example of explaining history in the light of contemporary knowledge and the prevailing ideological undercurrents. In both cases it is possible to analyze and trace the formation of separate images of certain scenes, turns and figures, and on the other hand, examine them as a whole imagery.


image, historiography, nationalism, identities, myths, narratives

Full text version of the article. Article language  English
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Tags: historiography, nationalism, Commentarii / Articles, Contemporary historian in search of a methodology, image, identities, myths, narratives