Re-thinking the Russian Revolution of 1917 as a global event in local contexts

  • Fri 15 - Sat 16 Sep 17


  • Colchester Campus

    Essex Business School

  • Event speaker


  • Event type


  • Event organiser

    History, Department of

  • Contact details

    Nadine Rossol

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 areas:

  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?

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