Dr. Nina Frieß and Dr. Félix Krawatzek

History for Young People: Historical Narratives and Perceptions

Dr. Nina Frieß and Dr. Félix Krawatzek

History for Young People: Historical Narratives and Perceptions

n-ost / Simone Brunner

Project description

Historical narratives are probably the most important resource for the formation of collective identities. How a group – a family, a region or a nation – tells its own story helps to shape that group’s self-perceptions and plays a part in determining which political and social actions it considers appropriate. Authority figures in politics and society therefore have an interest in conveying images of history that prompt the ‘right’ reactions. Children and teenagers are a key target group, as their attitudes and values are still malleable, or so it is believed.

In this interdisciplinary project, we identify and explore the historical narratives to which young people in Eastern Europe are exposed. The focus is on the representation of twentieth-century Russian/Soviet history. We take a comparative approach to our analysis of developments in Eastern Europe in order to reveal particularities and similarities.

Conscious of the wider call to link cultural studies and the social sciences, in this project we investigate both the logic underlying the production of historical narratives and the effect of those narratives on young people. In so doing, we have been able to show the relevance of cultural narratives for processes of cultural memory in different social and political contexts.


  • Qualitative analysis of the historical narratives conveyed in recent history books, literary texts and films
  • Analysis of surveys and focus group interviews to identify young people’s perceptions of history
  • Comparative analysis in the Eastern and Western European context.

Key questions

  • How do young people position themselves vis-à-vis the historical narratives to which they are exposed in culture, society and politics?
  • Under what circumstances do young people question these narratives and when do they assimilate them?
  • How are young people’s perceptions of history influenced by cultural artefacts?
  • In what ways do cultural memory narratives coincide or conflict with young people’s perceptions of history?
  • In what ways are the cultural memory narratives of young people similar or different in Eastern and Western Europe?

Project coordination