Mutual Perception in Contemporary Relations between Russia and Iran: Image of Russia and Iran in History School Textbooks of the Two Countries

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Abstract


Russia and Iran have maintained continuous diplomatic relations since 1592. During the post-Soviet period, relations between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran have strengthened significantly. The leaderships of both countries seek to turn their relations into a strategic partnership. However, the main obstacle to achieving this goal is the negative perception of the other by the peoples of both countries. The purpose of this study is to understand how modern Russians and Iranians see each other and the relations between their governments. This article examines data from sociological surveys, opinions of Russian and Iranian experts, and analyzes the images of Iran and Russia presented in school-level history textbooks of the two countries. We note negative stereotypes and a distrust of Russia among modern Iranians. Russia receives far more attention in Iranian history textbooks than Iran in Russian ones. For Iranians, the image of Russia as a neighbor is more important than the image of Russia as a great world power. However, the image of Russia in general is negative; Russia is seen as a country to be feared. The negative image of Russia among Iranians is formed through selective and often erroneous interpretation, rather than historical facts. Although opinion polls in contemporary Russia divulge a generally positive image of Iran, the country is not seen as important to respondents - it remains distant, exotic, and incomprehensible. Modern Russians have very faint ideas about their Southern neighbor, Iran. Persia and Iran receive so little attention in Russian school textbooks that it is difficult to talk about the image of this country as positive or negative.


About the authors

Julia Aleksandrovna Zotova

Islamic Azad University

Author for correspondence.
Email: juliazotova@yahoo.fr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

PhD in Slavic studies (Sorbonne University), Associate Professor

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