Collapsed Empires: the consequences of 1917 in the Mediterranean and the World

Facultad de Geografia e Historia, UCM, Madrid
Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Project: “Collapsed empires, post-colonial nations and the construction of historical consciousness. Memory infrastructures since 1917” (HAR2015-64155-P)
15.11.2017 - 17.11.2017
José M. Faraldo (Universidad Complutense Madrid)

The centenary of the Russian revolutions of 1917 is a good time to rethink the consequences of collapsed empires and states that beginning at that point in time then have repeated throughout the twentieth century. In this conference, will be examined the dissolution of empires and the decolonizations after 1917 in spatial and chronological comparison, regarding what the Bolshevik Revolution meant as a political, social, cultural and geospatial phenomenon.

The aim is to pay special attention to South shore of the Mediterranean Basin, although global and transnational analyses are also welcome. A special interest at the plenary sessions will be given to the consequences of 1917 at the Mediterranean, with participation of experts from Morocco, the Turkey and Egypt. We explicitly encourage scholars from North African countries and Middle East countries to participate.

We want to examine these developments within the perspective of other processes of independences like those after the Second World War as well as in relation to the consolidation of the post-colonial states (for example Morocco and Egypt). We are also interested in the exact inverse process: the independence and the recovery of full sovereignty after the collapsed of the Soviet Union 1989-1991.

The conference is financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, project “Collapsed empires, post-colonial nations and the construction of historical consciousness. Memory infrastructures since 1917” (HAR2015-64155-P) and it has the support of the Faculty of Geography and History at the Complutense University of Madrid and the Research Group of Contemporary History at the Carlos III University of Madrid, through its project “The Spanish Crisis of 1917: international context and domestic implications” (Ref. HAR2015-68348-R).

The conference consists of three plenary sessions in which the central problems of the two research projects that take part in the conference will be discussed and of five panels open to the participation of researchers from around the world. We encourage you to send your proposals directly to the panel’s chairs. Main conference languages will be Spanish and English, but we accept papers in French too. The deadline for proposals will be 16 January 2017.



Panel 1: Violence, resistance and repression in revolutionary movements under the Soviet influence

Chair: Fernando Jiménez Herrera

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Violence made its appearance in the Russian Revolution of 1917, among other ways, as a mechanism to accelerate and settle the change, and then maintain it. This panel aims to debate the different forms of revolutionary violence, both in Russia and abroad, that had their starting point in the upheavals following 1917. We don’t want, however, to limit the study to countries that belonged to the USSR, but also to countries of different latitudes. Moreover, we want to extend the analysis chronologically, namely, not limiting the study to the revolutionary violence of 1917, but to examine ways and uses of violence in different countries over time, in the context of the conflicts that emerged after the collapse of the European empires. We are interested above all in comparative analyses, cross or transnational, that could enable the contrast among acts of violence from different times and places. In conclusion, the goal of this roundtable is to analyze and study the violence inspire or under the soviet influence after 1917 in any country of the five continents.

Panel 2: Political and cultural consequences of the revolutionary milestone in the communist movement

Chair: Manuel Guerrero Boldó

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The Russian Revolution of 1917 led to the outbreak and spread of a very powerful international and transnational communist movement that went beyond of what became known as the “socialist bloc”. A matter of special relevance would be to analyze up to what point the beginning in 1917 determined the political agenda of all communist movement; how the USSR became a stigma that hindered the institutionalization of the communist parties in parliamentary regimes; the cultural weight of 1917 in the communist parties and how its symbolism and mythologizing were a source of contradiction in democratic contexts, and the historical memory transformation about the revolution in the communist movement and outside of it. A specific case would be Spain and its own 1917. Therefore, this roundtable, intends to encompass a wide variety of objectives that allow us to analyze a vast geographical and temporal spectrum.

Panel 3: Popular cultures and the construction of the historical conscience after 1917

Chair: Federico Jiménez Peñate

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The Russian Revolution and its immediate consequence, the creation of the Soviet Union, the first state to organize under a socialist political and economic model, is considered one of the defining events of the twentieth century. Its impact has surpassed the immediate repercussions to decisively influence the way in which nations and communities build their political and cultural identity. This process did not occur only in the territories that formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but also in other places, where it affected the way in which new governments managed the relationship with their national past, especially those recently emancipated from colonial rule. Even though the takeover of power resulted in the creation and transformation of the memory institutions, the different manifestations of popular culture were not excluded from this metamorphosis. The reinterpretation of national memories, silencing some elements while glorifying others, was transmitted by a myriad of channels, both officials as unofficial. This panel seeks to understand the degree and forms in which these revolutionary transformations had an effect on the various expressions of popular culture. Of particular interest to us are the mass media, but there are not excluded other kind of cultural manifestations, symbolics or of the memory.

Panel 4: The Russian Revolution of 1917 in the Americas and Spain

Chair: Juan Gutiérrez

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The centennial commemoration of the Russian Revolution is an opportune time to question traditional analyses relating to the impact it had on the Americas and Spain while at the same time it would be useful to bring to discussion topics or perspectives that have not been discussed or that have been analyzed superficially. The Russian Revolution influence on Latin American intellectuals and the direction taken by governments of populist or socialist tendency in the region are known aspects, but must be review. In what manner the cultural relations were affected by the revolution prior to the characteristic propaganda confrontations of the Cold War? Can we talk of a Mexican Revolution influence on the Russian Revolution’s leaders or the influence occurred only in the direction of Russia to the Americas? How the historiographical analysis in the Americas about the Russian Revolution changed when it became known the despotic nature of the regimes that emerged from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? What impact the Russian Revolution had in the contact between movements or individuals from United States and Latin America sympathetic with it?

Panel 5: Memory and cultural identities of the Russian Revolution of 1917

Chair: Candela Méndez Arcila

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Memory has become, in recent decades, one of the main approaches when analyzing history. From different perspectives, the recollection of historical events such as the Spanish Civil War or Second World War has generated a social and historiographical debate, open and current, that make us reconsider multiples issues, from whether it is possible to recuperate a common past in an objective manner to the use that has been made of memory, collectively and individually, in order to manipulate history. The main purpose of this panel is bring to light these and other questions beginning with the Russian revolutionary process of 1917 and its significance to the European wars of the twentieth century. The first socialist experience in the world cannot be seen just from a political component, that is, as the prelude of the great USSR, but also as the starting point of a new culture, and with that the creation and propagation of mentalities, experiences, practices, and symbologies that would have their effects in the definition of identities and in the daily life of soviet society. A second objective for the panel is to compare the memory built on the upheaval movements of 1917 in a wider chronological and spatial context that allows us to review the meaning of that milestone and its consequences in the development of the individual and social historical consciousness.


José M. Faraldo

Departament of Contemporary History, Universidad Complutense Madrid

Collapsed Empires: the consequences of 1917 in the Mediterranean and the World, 15.11.2017 – 17.11.2017 Madrid, in: H-Soz-Kult, 17.11.2016, <>.