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World War II Narratives in Contemporary Germany and Japan: How University Students Understand Their Past

Bode, Ingvild, Heo, Emilia Seunghoon (2017) World War II Narratives in Contemporary Germany and Japan: How University Students Understand Their Past. International Studies Perspectives, 18 (2). pp. 131-154. ISSN 1528-3577. E-ISSN 1528-3585. (doi:10.1093/isp/ekw011) (KAR id:59762)


This article explores narratives that university students in Germany and Japan tell about World War II. Studying these narratives offers insights into how conflict, reality, and knowledge are socially constructed. Scholars in reconciliation and memory studies have mainly focused on the differences between how Germany and Japan choose to remember their wartime pasts in history curricula and textbooks. However, little is known about how far these official versions of history are reproduced or challenged by university students. Working with data collected through an online survey, our findings address this question by making two arguments: first, the depth of World War II knowledge and the variety of knowledge sources students were exposed to affect whether students engage in a reflective or non-reflective characterization of their home countries’ role. This appears to be primarily influenced by the national knowledge environment students find themselves in. Second, while students surveyed tended to reproduce official narratives, both Japanese and German students also displayed critical engagement with World War II history teaching and knowledge in their countries.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/isp/ekw011
Uncontrolled keywords: narratives, World War II, university students, history education
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Ingvild Bode
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2017 10:59 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 05:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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