Oct 27 2016
Steve Smith (University of Oxford): How much popular support did the Bolsheviks enjoy 1917-1921?
The period between February and October 1917 was remarkable for the extent of mobilization by workers, soldiers, peasants, nationalists and other groups. This tended to work in favour of the Bolsheviks up to the winter of 1917-18. Thereafter much of this support ebbed away and rather rapidly. How far, if at all, was the Bolshevik victory in the civil war determined by popular support?
Stephen Smith is Professor of History at the University of Oxford and Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College. Previously he taught history at the University of Essex (1977-2008) and the European University Institute in Florence, Italy (2008-12). He is author of Red Petrograd: Revolution in the Factories, 1917-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), The Russian Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), and of a new history of the Russian revolution to be published by Oxford University Press in 2017. In addition to modern Russia, his research interests are modern China and comparative Communism. He is author of Like Cattle and Horses: Nationalism and Labor in Shanghai, 1895-1927 (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2002) and A Road is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920–27 (Honolulu/Richmond, UK: Curzon Press/University of Hawaii Press, 2000), and also of Revolution and the People in Russia and China: A Comparative History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) and The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). University web page
Nov 24 2016
Brendan McGeever (Birkbeck, University of London): Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution
The Bolsheviks came to power in 1917 with the promise of building a world free of class exploitation and other forms of oppression and domination. In the very moment of revolution, however, these sentiments were put to the test as a devastating wave of anti-Jewish violence broke out across the western borderlands of the former Russian empire. The pogroms posed fundamental questions of Marxist theory and practice, since they revealed the nature and extent of working class and peasant attachments to antisemitism and other forms of racism. Based on archival materials gathered in Ukraine, Russia and the United States, this talk will explain why class politics could overlap with antisemitism in the Russian Revolution. In doing so, the talk will, first, discuss examples of antisemitic violence carried out by workers and peasants in the Red Army at the local level in Ukraine and western Russia; and, second, analyse attempts by Bolsheviks and other revolutionaries to put a stop to antisemitism.
Brendan McGeever is Lecturer in the Sociology of Racialization and Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of The Bolsheviks and Antisemitism in the Russian Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which offers an analysis of antisemitism and class politics in the Russian Revolution of 1917. He is currently working on a new study of racism and anti-racism in the contemporary Russian Federation. University web page
Dec 15 2016
Andy Willimott (Reading University): Living the Revolution: Urban Communes in 1920s Russia and the Invention of a Socialist Lifestyle
At the heart of this talk is a cast of fiery-eyed, bed-headed youths determined to be the change they wanted to see in the world. First banding together in the wake of the October Revolution, seizing hold of urban apartments and student dormitories, youthful enthusiasts tried to offer practical examples of socialist living. Calling themselves ‘urban communes’, they embraced total equality and shared everything from money to underwear. They actively sought to overturn the traditional family unit, reinvent domesticity, and promote a new collective vision of human interaction. A trend was set: a revolutionary meme that would, in the coming years, allow thousands of would-be revolutionaries to experiment with the possibilities of socialism. These activists tried to live what they understood as the “socialist lifestyle”, self-consciously putting Marxist and Bolshevik theories into practice. By telling the story of the urban communes, this talk reveals how grand revolutionary ideals were experienced, understood, and appropriated on a human level.
Andy Willimott is Lecturer in Modern Russian/Soviet History at the University of Reading. He first became interested in the world of modern dreamers and revolutionary visions for everyday life while studying History at the University of East Anglia, surrounded by the architecture of Denys Lasdun and Norman Foster. Between 2012 and 2015, he was Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies. He is author of Living the Revolution: Urban Communes & Soviet Socialism, 1917-1932 (Oxford University Press, 2016) and co-author of Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide (Routledge, 2017). University web page, Profile and Information about book. Twitter @AndyWillimott
Jan 26 2017
Sarah Badcock (Nottingham University): Kaleidoscopes of revolution: Provincial perspectives on 1917
This talk will explore the ways in which regional studies of the revolutionary period have re-shaped our understandings of 1917. There will be a particular focus on Russia’s rural population.
Sarah Badcock is associate Professor in history at the University of Nottingham. She completed her joint honours Bachelor of Arts in History and Roman Civilisation at the University of Leeds in 1995, and her Masters and PhD at the University of Durham. Her research focuses on Russia in the late Imperial and revolutionary periods. She is interested in comparative perspectives on questions of punishment, free and unfree labour, and penal cultures. Her most recent book, A prison without walls? Eastern Siberian exile in the last years of Tsarism will be published by Oxford University Press in November 2016. She spent several years researching ordinary people’s experiences of the Russian revolution. This research culminated in a book published by Cambridge University Press in 2007, Politics and the People in Revolutionary Russia; A provincial history. Badcock’s interest in regional perspectives on the Russian revolutions continued with a collaborative project, and she recently published an edited collection of essays exploring Russia’s revolutions from regional perspective, along with her friends and colleagues Liudmila Novikova (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) and Aaron Retish (Wayne State University), entitled Russian Home Front In War And Revolution, 1914-22: Book 1. Russia’s Revolution In Regional Perspective. This book is part of a broader series, Russia’s Great War and Revolution, 1914-1922. University web page
Feb 23 2017
Katy Turton (Queens University, Belfast): Women in Revolt: The Female Experience of the 1917 Revolutions
Revolutionary crises tend to bring women to the fore and the Russian revolutions of 1917 are no exception. The Tsarina’s role in precipitating the fall of the Romanov dynasty is well known and due recognition has been given to the important spark provided to the revolutionary crowds of Petrograd by the International Women’s Day marches of 23 February. The short-lived defence of the Winter Palace in October by the First Petrograd Women’s Battalion against the Bolsheviks is the stuff of legend and Alexandra Kollontai’s call for women’s liberation in the new Soviet regime is as much celebrated as misunderstood. This talk will discuss these iconic moments in the wider context of women’s experiences of and contributions to the Russian revolutions of 1917.
Katy Turton is a lecturer in European history at Queen’s University, Belfast, specialising in Russian and Soviet history. A graduate of the universities of Aberdeen, Strathclyde and Glasgow, her first book, Forgotten Lives, focused on Lenin’s sisters, Anna, Olga and Maria Ulianova. Her current research centres on the role of women and family networks in the revolutionary movement with publications including: ‘A Mother’s Love or Political Statement? The Role of Maria Alexandrovna Ulianova in her Family’s Revolutionary Struggle’ in Women’s History Review, ‘Keeping it in the Family: Surviving Political Exile, 1870-1917’ in Canadian Slavonic Papers, and ‘Children of the Revolution: Parents, Children and the Revolutionary Struggle in Late Imperial Russia’ in The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. Find an interview with Katy Turton on Forgotten Lives here. University web page
March 16 2017
George Gilbert (Southampton University): The Radical Right and the Russian Revolution
March 30 2017
Dmitry Tolkatsch (University of Freiburg, Germany): The Ukrainian Peasant Insurgency in the Revolutionary Period
April 27 2017
Chris Read (Warwick University): The Social History of the Revolutionary Period
May 25 2017
Barbara Allen (La Salle University, USA): Alexander Shlyapnikov and the Russian Metalworkers in 1917
June 29 2017
Don Filtzer (University of East London): The Working Class and the First Five-year Plan, 1928-32
Sep 28 2017
Wendy Goldman (Carnegie Mellon University, USA): Taking Power: Remaking the Family, Levelling Wages, Planning the Economy
Oct 12 2017
Lara Cook (University of York): Local Soviets in 1917-18 and their Relations with the Central Executive Committee
Oct 26 2017
1917 a Century On: A Debate
Speakers TBC, including
Simon Pirani (author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat 1920-1924)
Nov 23 2017
Gleb Albert (University of Zurich): Early Soviet Society and World Revolution, 1917-27