How to teach Russian history during the war in Ukraine? And Russian literature? Vladimir Putin’s diet? At Quebec universities, professors review the content of their courses. Some are considering removing the word “Russian” from the name of their project.
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“I think the teachings on Russian politics, history and literature will change somewhat after this war,” said Maria Popova, an associate professor of political science at McGill University.
No, it’s not about burning books or banning Russian writers. As explained by M.Me According to Popova, the war in Ukraine was an opportunity to “colonize Russia’s exploration.”
First, this is one of the most significant changes, as professors in the fields of languages, literature, and culture at McGill want to remove the reference to “Russian” from the program “Russian and Slavic Studies.”
In recent years, Slavic studies – covering Central and Eastern Europe – have taken a back seat, says undergraduate program director Daniel Brad Webster.
At the beginning of XXIe Over the centuries, interest and funding for Slavic studies waned, and for the benefit of the Middle East and China, it later became popular. “We ended up focusing more and more on Russia,” he says.
However, the post-war Russian propaganda machine reminds us of the need to position Russia in a “broader context” that includes Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic.
“When Putin presents his case for a Russian world, he focuses on the stories of cultural history. We want to show that this is not an entirely true story. There is more to Russia than just a race,” he said. Webster insists.
The voices of minorities are high
We do not teach its history without talking about the imperial rule of France, which Maria Popova underlines. She predicts that the same will happen to the Soviet Union after the war.
The expert on post-communist Europe explains that “Russia continued to be an empire, with much emphasis on the fact that it was an empire and a dominant force within the Soviet Union.”
For that, it takes past witnesses, says Christy Ironzite. Historical documents that allow him to teach the story told in the eyes of the colonial people.
The problem is, translated versions of these documents are rare. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, in all its tragedy, could be something good.
We need more insights from these minorities, and there is a great deal of recognition that these voices are needed in our teaching field.
Kristy Ironside, expert in modern Russia at McGill University
“I think there will be more releases. I know there are plans to translate more Central Asian sources, ”said the modern-day Russian scholar.
These documents also protect us from the trap of rewriting history in the spirit of the times. “In the past, people had different understandings of their national identity and language. That’s why I think it’s important to have these documents,” she said.Me Ironcide.
Rise again in popularity?
Will Russian (or Slavic) courses become more popular among students with the invasion of Ukraine? Hard to say for now.
The University of Quebec in Montreal does not see the urgency of students, but McGill Professor Christy Ironzite notices an increase in enrollment in her introductory Russian history course. Aureli Kampana, a professor of political science who teaches post-Soviet Russia at Laval University, looks forward to a lively session next fall.
It is clear that this will lead to discussions that I describe as emotional and engaging. Our role as teachers is to allow students to express themselves, but to put things forward.
Aurélie Campana, Professor at the University of Laval
In the long run, Professor Daniel Brad Webster hopes that the war in Ukraine will inspire a new impetus for Slavic studies. But universities are moving slowly, and before the money can come, the interest should be more than one or two years.
“Already, I see some universities making a strong commitment to diversify their Slavic study, which is very good.”
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