CFP: Re-thinking the Russian Revolution of 1917 as a global

University of Essex, Department of History
15.09.2017-16.09.2017, Colchester, University of Essex
Deadline: 15.12.2016

The Russian Revolution took place in many places and in different ways.
Petrograd became the centre of events in 1917, but the revolutionary
wave quite quickly swept over the whole Russian empire. Over the last
two decades researchers studied and discovered the many faces of
Russia’s revolution within the imperial periphery. However, the Russian
revolution did not only take place in the former Romanov Empire. News
about the Tsar’s abdication, the February Revolution, subsequent events,
and finally the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power spread around the globe. As
people in other countries and on other continents learned about the
Russian Revolution, they imagined, interpreted, and at times
appropriated it for their own causes in their respective local contexts.
Russia’s Revolution mattered to foreign governments, social groups,
organisations, artists, activists, intellectuals, workers, and other
ordinary people far beyond the borders of the former Romanov Empire. In
the minds of millions it evoked a range of polarizing emotions,
influenced people’s world views and thinking; it triggered actions and
reactions in local contexts all over the world. In this sense, the
Russian Revolution was a truly global event with many faces. This is the
larger picture we plan to discuss at our upcoming conference.
Relative immediacy is a core organising concept of the conference – we
are most interested in imaginations, interpretations, and reactions that
unfolded simultaneously during the course of 1917 or close to this time
span in and outside of the former Tsarist Empire. The conference aims to
assemble scholars (including advanced PhD students) whose work is both
historical and interdisciplinary to contribute to the discussion about
re-thinking the Russian Revolution as a global event in local contexts.
We are particularly, but not exclusively interested in the following key
1. Communication, global spread of information
When did the news about the revolutionary events reach other places? How
much and what was reported about them? Which particular events of the
Russian Revolution got attention over the course of 1917? Who did have
access to this information? Were the developments in Russia/Petrograd
common knowledge?
2. Imagination, Interpretation, and Representation
How did different parts of societies imagine and interpret the Russian
events? How did people far from the events in Russia/Petrograd make
sense out of the events or appropriate and integrate them into their
discourses? How did they conceptualize “the Russian Revolution”? To what
extent did the Russian Revolution enlarge “imaginative horizons”?
3. Reactions/Actions
What kind of reactions/actions did revolutionary events in Russia
trigger in social/local contexts? This question refers to a spectrum
reaching from emotions to concrete actions.
4. Repercussions
Did contemporary reactions/actions outside Russia or from the imperial
periphery have repercussions on the events in the centre? How aware were
ordinary Russians about the significance of Russian events? And what
influence did it hold for them?
We invite proposals connected with these themes and as well those
developing and expanding upon them. Submission of abstracts (roughly 400
words) should be sent to,, by December 15th 2016.
Felix Schnell

University of Essex
Department of History, Wivenhoe Park, CO43SQ, Colchester, United
+44 1206 872226
+44 1206 873757

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