Conference programme

The Peripheries of the European Revolutionary Process(es), 1917-23

5-6-7 October 2017

Theatre, Badia Fiesolana, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

Organisers: Jan Rybak (EUI)Arturo Zoffmann Rodriguez (EUI)

The Russian Revolution was a watershed event in global history. The transformations it occasioned lastingly shaped the world order. Its reverberations were felt well beyond the borders of the Tsarist Empire. Many of its protagonists conceived it as the first act of the world revolution – an impression that was shared by many abroad, both friends and foes. The revolution inaugurated a period of pan-European agitations unseen since 1848.

The centenary of 1917 has rekindled interest for the Russian Revolution and its global significance, which is being revisited through innovative prisms, shedding light on disregarded actors, networks, and ideas. This international conference shifts attention away from the well-known splits and schisms in Social Democracy and the big revolutionary upheavals in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Italy, to focus on the reception of the Bolshevik Revolution by unconventional groups of radicals, iconoclasts, and revolutionaries that have been frequently forgotten by the historiography: nationalists, feminists, anarchists, republicans, etc., who struck temporary and often tense and fragile alliances with the Bolsheviks. We aim to study the way these groups understood and assimilated the news coming from the east; the blurry and unstable but also mythical and rousing images conjured by the revolution; and the networks and channels through which they learned about the revolution and engaged with the Bolsheviks and the nascent Third International. Not only are we concerned with the ideological peripheries of the European revolutionary movement, but also on its geographic peripheries, and are particularly interested in local case studies that move away from the Central European shatter zones to less studied corners of the continent.


DAY 1: Thursday 5 October 2017

12:30 – 13:30 REGISTRATION

13:30 – 14: 00 OPENING REMARKS

14:00 – 15:30 PANEL 1: The European Civil War

Chair: Federico Romero (EUI)

– Wim van Meurs (Radboud University Nijmegen): Stamboliyski as a Peasantist Revolutionary 

– Aleksandra Pomiecko (University of Toronto): War, Revolution, and Nationalism: Reframing the Sluck Uprising of 1920  

15:30 – 16:00 COFFEE BREAK

16:00 – 17:30 PANEL 2: Women on the frontlines of revolution

Chair: Pieter Judson (EUI)

– Tiina Lintunen (University of Turku): Revolutionary Red Women: Why Did Finnish Women Join the Red Guard? 

– Veronika Helfert (University of Vienna): On the Peripheries of the Westentaschenrevolution: Women in the Austrian Revolution and Council’s Movement 

17:30 – 18:00 COFFEE BREAK

18:00 – 19:30 KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Robert Gerwarth (University College Dublin): Bolshevism and the European Counter-Revolution, 1917-1939

20:00 – 21:00 CONFERENCE DINNER: Circolo ARCI Risorgimento, Ponte alla Badia


DAY 2: Friday 6 October 2017

09:30 – 11:00 PANEL 3: ‘Hearts, too, are motors’: Art, culture, and revolution

Chair: Ann Thomson (EUI)

– Brigid O’Keeffe (Brooklyn College, City University of New York): An International Language for Global Proletarian Revolution? Esperanto and the Bolsheviks, 1917–1923 

–  Eszter Balázs (János Kodolányi University Budapest/Kassák Museum – Petöfi Literary Museum Budapest) & Gábor Dobó (Università degli Studi di Firenze/Eötvös Loránd University Budapest/ Kassák Museum – Petöfi Literary Museum Budapest): Between Commitment and Criticism. Challenges of the Hungarian Avant-Garde in Prominent Positions During the Commune of 1919 

11:00 – 11:30 COFFEE BREAK

11:30 – 13:00 PANEL 4: Honeymoon and heartbreak: anarchists, syndicalists, and Bolsheviks

Chair: Arturo Zoffmann Rodriguez (EUI)

– Reiner Tosstorff (Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz): The Syndicalist Encounter with Bolshevism: from Honeymoon to Love Marriage or Estrangement 

– Francesco Giliani (University of Naples): A revolutionary syndicalist in Moscow: Alfred Rosmer from the “Charter of Amines” to Bolshevism

13:00 – 14:00 LUNCH (EUI)

14:00–15:30 PANEL 5: New and unlikely allies? Fellow travelers and uncanny friendships

Chair: Pavel Kolář (EUI)

– Tommaso Giordani (EUI): ‘Apôtre du syndicalisme révolutionnaire, ami de la Russie des Soviets’: Georges Sorel and the Russian Revolution (1919-1922).

– Dimitry V. Shlapentokh (Indiana University, South Bend): The Changing Mind: the Acceptance of Revolution by its Enemies

15:30 – 16:00 COFFEE BREAK

16:00 – 17:30 PANEL 6: From the battlefield to the barricades and back: revolution and war

Chair: Tamara Scheer (University of Vienna/EUI)

– Tamás Révész (University of Vienna): National Army under Red Banner? The Mobilization of the Hungarian Red Army in 1918-1919 

– Yannis Skalidakis (University of Crete) & George Souvlis (EUI): “Red Soldiers”; The Infiltration of Communist ideology to the Greek Army during the Russian Civil War and the Greco-Turkish War

17:30 – 18:00 COFFEE BREAK

18:00 – 19:30 KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Steve Smith (University of Oxford): The Russian Revolution: A Hundred Years On

20:00 – 21:00 CONFERENCE DINNER: Trattoria Tiberio (Via delle Ruote 26/R)


DAY 3: Saturday 7 October 2017

09:30 – 11:00 PANEL 7: Socialism, Nationalism, and Zionism

Chair: Borut Klabjan (EUI)

– Jan Rybak (EUI): The red flag over Petrograd or Jerusalem? Socialist Zionism in the Revolution

– Nick Underwood (University of Colorado, Boulder): The Yiddish Red Flag in the City of Light: Revolutionary Jewish Culture in Interwar Paris

11:00 – 11:30 COFFEE BREAK

11:30 – 13:00 PANEL 8: Anti-colonialism, Islam, and Bolshevism

Chair: John Slight (University of Cambridge/EUI)

– Alp Yenen (University of Basel): Anticolonial Revolutions between Nationalism and Internationalism: The Transnational Moment of Muslim Revolutionary Movements after World War I 

– Giorgio Potì (American University of Rome): Flirting with Lenin in Paris: The Egyptian Revolution of 1919 and the French Left

13:00 – 13:30 CLOSING REMARKS