Historical Culture and the Mediated Narratives of Nation


  • Jukka Kortti


Academic history is only one of the many forms of mediating history. Popular practices, such
as entertainment, identity projects and policy justifications often have a more effective role in
historical culture than academic history. Public traditions, such as national commemorations are
the central scenes of historical culture. They call for a discussion of the essence of nations and
nationalism in the public sphere.

During globalisation and the rise of multiculturalism, national histories are increasingly said
to be a ‘broken mirror’: there are several and contested narratives about a nation. On the other
hand, there is also a strong tendency to emphasise and reinforce national ‘master narratives’
among nations evoked by social-national conservatism and the overall rise of populist

This essay discusses what role historical culture and historical consciousness plays in the
narrating of a nation. The starting point here is Finnish historical culture. The essay suggests approaches how to study historical culture from a perspective that takes into account the
production as well as the reception context of historical culture in narrating nation. It calls for
studies that analyse the relationship between academic history and other forms of historical
culture, namely media representation of history. The essay emphasises the importance of
mediated and aesthetic forms of historical culture in creating a view of the history of a nation.