Uncovering the Formation of Fake History Narratives
Lecture by Mila Oiva
Given the Baltic Summer School of Digital Humanities 2021, in Tallinn, Estonia, on August 24, 2021
Abstract: We are living in an era of abundant, fast-circulating and easily twisting information. Among all other stories, nation bound historical narratives shape our identities and worldviews and through that have a potential to shake politics and international relations. Popular historical stories circulating in the world wide web contain a diversity of historical narratives, including ones that consciously contest the academic research and spread simplified understandings based on conspiracy theories, and that thus can be defined as ‘pseudohistory’.
This plenary introduces an ongoing project that seeks to understand the process of pseudohistorical content development in the current era. The project explores the global topic through a case study of circulating pseudohistorical narratives on Russian medieval history in the Russian language web. The used data contains 1.5 million websites, blogposts and discussion forum posts addressing the topic of the origins of Russian state in the Middle Ages. The project utilizes text reuse detection, network analysis and topic modeling in its effort to detect the structures and dynamics of evolution of fake historical narratives.
Top Image: Rurik on the Monument «Millennium of Russia» in Veliky Novgorod. Photo by Дар Ветер / Wikimedia Commons