In light of a looming national identity crisis in Montenegro, this article makes the case that changes in history textbooks of post-Yugoslav Montenegro are strategic communications in the process of national identity construction. As history textbooks are considered a primary site for the representation of nation-building myths—a key feature of national identity—this article seeks to demonstrate the paramount agency of school textbooks in structuring national identity. The inter-dependent relationships between history, memory, identity, and narrativity, and the significance of these concepts in strategic communications theory and practice are discussed in the theoretical framework. Six history textbooks written for the seventh and eighth grades of primary school, published in the years 1997, 2001, and 2008—each a turning point in how Montenegrin national identity was viewed by the political elites in power—are examined comparatively, discursively, and thematically. The analysis demonstrates that changes to various editions of Montenegrin history textbooks were made with a view towards (re)constructing collective memory and national myths to influence the attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs of a captive audience of primary school pupils and qualify as state-projected strategic communications.

Keywords—strategic communications, strategic communication, history textbooks, national identity, national identity construction, Montenegro, narrative, collective memory, memory construction

About the Author
Jovana Vuletić consults with the UNODC’s Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism. Her research interests focus on the understanding and projection of Strategic Communications, particularly in the Western Balkan region.