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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research

History politics and war memories of the North. A Norwegian-Russian cooperation project in education and research

Alternative title: Historiepolitikk og krigsminner i nord. Et norsk-russisk utdannings- og forskningsprosjekt

Awarded: NOK 3.1 mill.

The history and memory of WWII in the Arctic play a topical role in the relations between the neighbouring states of Norway and Russia. Of particular importance are the joint Norwegian-Russian commemorations of the Red Army liberation of Eastern Finnmark in October 1944. The memory of the liberation forms a cornerstone in the story about historically peaceful relations between the small state of Norway and the great power of Russia, a story that has been highly appreciated and actively promoted by both states. The UPAST project explores and disseminates knowledge about this and other war memories in the relations between Norway and Russia in the North. This is done through educational activities and research, conducted in collaboration between experts at the two partner institutions, the History Department of UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and Centre for Historical Research at Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg. Through the project, we aim to enhance our understanding as well as our teaching practices and create new bodies of knowledge to increase awareness of the (ab)use of war and other historical events for diplomacy and dialogue, but also for nationalistic propaganda and social or geopolitical polarisation. The project encompasses the development and piloting of MA level courses where Norwegian and Russian students will work together on the theories and methods of memory studies; on exploring material remnants of WWII (battlefields, construction sites, infrastructures etc.); on memory practices, through developing an exhibition on prisoners of war in the North. The project also pilots a full semester of student mobility, which, if successful, will be integrated on a permanent basis at the partner institutions.

This grant proposal targets the section in the INTPART call on developing high quality professional relations with leading environments in history education and research in Russia. The proposal emanates from the on-going RCN funded research project “In a World of Total War. Norway 1939-1945”, headed by UiT, and aims at adding value by bringing in Russian perspectives and Russian partners; by developing educational cooperation; and by exploring more deeply the war memories of the northern regions, and the (ab)use of history in the public spheres of the two states. The educational elements of this proposal are important, as cooperation in higher education between Russia and Norway has decreased over the last years. This proposal aims at meeting this challenge by investing in administrative structures for mobility and actively exploring the preconditions for sustainable cooperation between the partner institutions. The rationale behind the project is to achieve synergy between the in-depth knowledge about WWII being accumulated at UiT through on-going research, and the expertise of Centre for Historical Research at Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, by working with theoretical and methodological approaches to uses of the past, as well as transnational, comparative and global history education and research. The history and memory of WWII in the Arctic play a topical role in the bilateral relations between the neighbouring states of Norway and Russia. This becomes particularly evident in the run-up to and during commemorative occasions, such as this year’s 75th anniversary of the Red Army liberation of eastern Finnmark. The overarching goal of this project is to explore, deepen and disseminate knowledge about different aspects of war memories, including material heritage, as part of the bilateral relations between the two states, with a special focus on the interplay between official and public memory and the political aspects of history in society.

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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research