Call for Papers - Special issue on Weaponizing History in the Russo-Ukrainian War - Journal of Applied History

Lien Verpoest's picture
Call for Papers
April 19, 2022 to June 15, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Diplomacy and International Relations, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Nationalism History / Studies

Call for contributions to a special issue on Weaponizing History in the Russo-Ukrainian War

Guest editors: Professor Beatrice de Graaf, Utrecht University, The Netherlands and Professor Lien Verpoest, Leuven University, Belgium

Deadline: 15 June 2022

Historical claims, narratives, myths and other distortions of the past have been at the heart of the build-up to the current war and its legitimation and contestation. A Nietzschean monumentalist instrumentalization of history stands out. The past is mined by Russian president Vladimir Putin to construct a narrative of Russian greatness: it is abused to glorify political leadership by positioning the president as the heir of the czars. The past is instrumentalized to support geopolitical claims on Ukrainian territory as historically ‘belonging’ to Russia and to legitimize a battle against NATO imperialism. Historical myths form the disturbing foundation of xenophobic rhetoric. All of this and more calls for a critical reflection on the role history and claims on and about the past play in the current war. The editors invite a broad range of contributions, ranging from shorter (1,500-2,500 words) interventions and review essays to slightly longer (4,000) research papers.

We welcome submissions on a broad range of topics, including, but not limited to:

Discussions and deconstructions of historical narratives and myths:

- Moscow/Russia as the Third Rome;

- Instrumentalizing narratives on Slavic brotherhood

- (Strategic narratives on) Ukraine and the Nazi past;

- The role of the Orthodox church in legitimizing Russian “imperial” politics

- Ukrainian nationalism and its relations to “Europeanism”

- The role of the Cossack Hetmanate in Ukrainian nationhood Discussions on historical path dependencies and analogies relating to the war - Putin as a new czar vs. Russia as an empire in decline;

- Appeasement vs. a new Cold War;

- The Russian discourse of humiliation

- Historians confronting IR/Realist theories;

- How to historicize abuses: war crimes, ‘denazification’, missed opportunities, ‘broken promises’.

Review essays of recent works on Russian and Ukrainian history and foreign relations, as well as recent biographies of Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelensky, and other key political figures in Russia and Ukraine. Getting the facts straight, e.g. interventions that discuss the promises supposedly made to Russia in the 1990s regarding NATO (non-)membership of Eastern European states. … and other topics that fall within the scope of this call for contributions

If you are planning to respond to this call, please send an email to with a short description of your contribution and a (link to your) bio ultimately April 30, 2022. The deadline for sending in your contribution is June 15, 2022. Please note that all contributions will be subjected to a fast-track peer review. Accepted publications will appear online first. Brill has kindly agreed to publish all contributions in Free Access:

Contact Info: 

Prof. Beatrice de Graaf and Prof. Lien Verpoest,