Beyond 1917

15th May 2017


Historical legacies of the October Revolution of 1917 were the subject of a two day conference at Wadham this month.

The conference, ‘Beyond 1917: Socialism, Power, and Social Change in Global Perspective’ explored the history of communist revolutionary movements, different forms of socialism, and their influence on shifting ideas of power and social change in the 20th century.

Geoff Eley (Michigan) and Pauli Kettunen (Helsinki) framed these broad perspectives on the history of socialism with their keynote lectures. Organised by Wadham Fellow Sebastian Gehrig, Jakub Beneš (Oxford), Christina Morina (Amsterdam), and Kasper Braskén (Turku), an international group of historians discussed the themes of internationalism, soviet power and socialist alternatives, anti-imperialist movements and activists, ideologies of planning, labour, and production as well as the New Left and new forms of protest.

The Sanderson-Fund, the John-Fell-Fund, Åbo Akademi University, and the German Research Foundation (DFG) generously supported the event.

Conference programme

Saturday, 13 May

9:50-10:00     Opening Remarks, Jakub Beneš (Oxford)

10:00-11:00     Keynote I: Geoff Eley (Michigan), ‘Global October: Nations, States, and Revolutions, 1917-1991’

11:15-12:30     Panel I: Agents of Internationalism
Lisa Kirschenbaum (West Chester U), ‘The Power of Revolution: How Michael Gruzenberg Became Comintern Agent Mikhail Borodin (1918-1920)’
Choi Chatterjee (CSU Los Angeles), ‘Imperial Subjects in the Soviet Union: Rabindranath Tagore, M. N. Roy, and Re-thinking Freedom and Authoritarianism in the Twentieth Century’
Comment: Rana Mitter (Oxford)

1:30-2:45     Panel II: Soviet Power
Giovanni Cadioli (Oxford), ‘Soviet “General Economic Plans” and the building of Communism’
Dina Moyal (Tel Aviv), ‘Socialist Legality: Law, Politics and Power in post-Stalinist USSR’
Comment: Sebastian Gehrig (Oxford)

3:00-4:15     Panel III: Socialist Alternatives
Ivan Sablin (St Petersburg), ‘Alternative Russia: Socialist Coalitions and Democracy in the Russian Far East, 1920–1922’
Arturo Rodriguez (EUI Florence), ‘Anarchists will have to act as bosses: the Spanish anarchists, the Soviet regime, and the question of political power, 1917-36’
Comment: Kasper Braskén (Åbo Akademi/Turku)

4:30-5:30     Keynote II: Pauli Kettunen (Helsinki), ‘The Nordic Welfare State - a Social Democratic Project?’

Sunday, 14 May

10:00-11:15     Panel IV: Global Socialism
Victor Strazzeri (FU Berlin), ‘Forging socialism through democracy? Eurocommunism and the transnational debate on power in the global socialist left (1973-1989)’
Andreas Hilger (Hamburg), ‘Revolution, Evolution, and War: The Indian Communist Party, Cold War, and the Sino-Soviet rivalry, 1945-1965’
Comment: Stephen Smith (Oxford)

11:30-12:45     Panel V: Labour and Production
Tommaso Milani (LSE), ‘The Labour Plan: The Rise and Fall of a Transnational Socialist Project, 1932-1938’
Omri Evron (Tel Aviv), ‘European Socialist Parties’ Platforms and Relations of Production: A comparative study of the treatment of relations of production in the party platforms of contemporary socialist and communist parties in Europe’
Comment: David Priestland (Oxford)

1:45-3:00     Panel VI: Representing Socialist Power
Andrew Sloin (CUNY Baruch), ‘Fear of the Red Planet: Alienation and Socialist Power’
Svenja Bethke (Leicester), ‘How to dress up for Socialism: clothing, fashion and power in the Zionist movement in Eastern Europe and Palestine 1900-1930s’
Comment: Christina Morina (Amsterdam)

3:15-4:30     Panel VII: The New Left
Åsmund Gjerde (Bergen), ‘Power and the Idea of Progress in the Old and the New Left, 1945-1970’
Stephen Milder (Groningen), ‘Democracy in the Streets, Social Change in the Countryside: The post-1968 New Left and Grassroots Visions of Political Power’
Comment: Geoff Eley (Michigan)

4:30-5:15     Concluding Roundtable Discussion
Christina Morina (Amsterdam)
David Priestland (Oxford)
Stephen Smith (Oxford)