Conflicting Popular Culture - Populism and Puclic History. Vlastimil Vondruška and the Instrumentalization of the Middle Ages

  • Martin Šorm


The article highlights the success of the populist presentation of the Middle Ages
associated in contemporary Czech culture with the political extreme right. On the
example of the texts by Vlastimil Vondruška, the author considers options for an
adequate response from the academia. He sees habitual corrections, distance or
ridicule as a rather unfortunate internalization of the populist narrative about elites
and the people that Vondruška promotes. As a productive reaction of the academia
the author considers instead the consistent presentation of historical science in the
spirit of reconstructivism, with an emphasis on memory, methodological, conceptual
and value-oriented transparency, inclusive multi-perspectivity and the collective
nature of science. The shortcomings of professional historians in the face of disinformers
do not lie in poor knowledge or inadequate presentation skills, but in creating unattainable expectations and thus paving the way for simplifying, monologic
and toxic communication of the past.