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Regular version of the site

190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel, Room 123

Phone:+7 (812)786-92-49 

Postal address: 
190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel

Department Head Adrian A. Selin
Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Anisimov

Joint workshop of "Ab Imperio" Journal and the Center for Historical Research with support from the Fund for Support for Liberal Arts "Imperial Revolution of 1917: Post-Imperial Imaginaries and Revolutionary Politics in the Context of Diversity"

On June 9-10, the Higher School of Economics in Saint-Petersburg hosted a joint seminar of the journal “Ab Imperio” and the Center for historical research, with support from the Fund for Support for Liberal Arts . The seminar was dedicated to the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917 and to the legacy of imperial politics and society in the post-Imperial period, including the varieties of post-imperial political imagination in a comparative and global context.

The seminar was opened by Professor A. Semyonov, Director, Center for Historical Research, Chair, Department of History, HSE St. Petersburg and co-editor, “Ab Imperio.” In his opening speech he mentioned the upcoming five-year anniversary of the Department of history at the St. Petersburg HSE campus and the specifics and peculiarities of the work of our Department in the field of Global, Comparative and Transnational history.

The topics of the presentations were very diverse and covered different aspects of the revolution of 1917. On the first day of the seminar presentations were held by the following scholars:

Key-note speakers were:

1.      Ilya Gerasimov , Editor-in-chief, Ab Imperio

“The Great Imperial Revolution”.

Ilya Gerasimov talked about the difficulty of the defining Empire in the context of the revolutionary upheaval of 1917-1918. He concluded that despite the formal collapse of the Russian Empire, the typical style was of imperial thinking continued to dominate in the former territories of Empire. In his opinion, this was due to the fact that the experience of political systems and certain sets of practices of the new political elites hand been formed in the imperial situation. And despite territorial disintegration of the “Empire”, the imperial idea was not dead but adapted to the new political situation.

2.      Marina Mogilner , Ab Imperio, Edward and Marianna Thaden Chair in Russian and East European Intellectual History, University of Illinois at Chicago

“The Imperial Counter-Revolution: the Struggle for a New Language of Political Imagination (the Case of Vladimir Zhabotinsky)”.

 In her report, Marina Mogilner explored how Jewish intellectuals worked with the category of race, described the Jews as a modern nation that was integrated in the modern world. Mogilner considered practice both at the level of scientific communities and of individuals (the case of Vladimir Zhabotinsky).

3.      Sergey Glebov , Ab Imperio, Smith and Amherst colleges

“Lenin and Soviet Essentialism: Class, State, Nation”.

Sergei Glebov proposed a new reading of the texts of V.I. Lenin and suggested to look at Lenin, first of all, as a social theorist who was himself became the product of imperial diversity. During the Q&A session, the participants discussed whether Lenin's theory of state building is pragmatic or theoretical.

 Ekaterina Boltunova (associate Professor, School of Philology, HSE)

“The Soviet-Polish War of 1919-1921. And the imperial discourse of the war in the 1920s.”

Boltunova’s talk explored the first military confrontation on the borders of the new Empire and how the latter was reflected in the imperial discourse of war. In particular, she addressed the slogans of the imperial past and the spread of revolutionary ideas.

Alexander Gorny (Senior lecturer, Department of History of Belarus, archeology and special historical disciplines, Yanka Kupala State University of Grodno)

“To Become Belarusians: the Participation of Former Imperial Officials, Intellectuals and Clergy in the Belarusian National Movement After 1917”

Gorny’s presentation was dedicated to the influence of 1917 on the self-perception of former imperial elites (officials, intellectuals, clergy), who became prominent representatives of the Belarusian national movement.

Alexander Vasyukov (Postgraduate student, Department of Political Science, HSE St. Petersburg)

“Ukraine as a Space for Implementing the National Policy of the Bolsheviks: Ukrainization, Bulgarization, Polonization betwenn 1917 and the early 1930's.”

Vasyukov’s paper speech was devoted to the national politics of the early Soviet state and to the practice of indigenization as a way of spreading Communist ideas. It focused on the indigenization campaings directed at Ukrainians, Poles and Bulgarians).

During the second day the following presentations were given:

Jonathan Sicotte (Research Fellow, the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences, HSE) “Baku through War and Revolution:  1914 to 1920”

Sicotte’s paper covered the topics of war, revolution, ethnic violence in the context of their influence on changes in the economy of Baku, actions of individual modes and the impact of population participating in events of the 1914-1920s.

Konstantin Tarasov (Research fellow, Saint Petersburg Institute of History (N. Lihachev mansion) of Russian Academy of Sciences) “Self-government of Soldiers in the Petrograd Garrison: Representative and Direct Democracy”

Tarasov’s paper highlighted the emergence of democratic principles in the management of military units during the Revolution of 1917 and the formation of soldiers 'self-organization, expressed in such forms as the soldiers' committees at different levels, regimental collections, etc.

Igor Kuziner (MA student, Program “History of Religion,” The Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia) “Party Policy, the Local Community, Regional and National Contexts in 1917”

Kuziner’s talk revealed looked at the involvement of Old Believers in Russia during 1917 as well as their reception of the Revolution and its impact on them.

Maria Gulakova (Guide Complier of the Jewish documents in the archives of St. Petersburg, project “History and Culture Documents of Jews in the Archives of “The Judaic of Petersburg” Foundation”

Gulakova’s paper dealt with the perception of the revolution of 1917 among the Jewish intelligentsia in St. Petersburg in the context of Jewish nationalism.

Alexander Korobeynikov (Undergraduate student, Bachelor’s Program “History,” Research assistant, Center for Historical Research, HSE St. Petersburg) “To Achieve the Full Self-Determination Principle: Positive Political Projects of the Yakut Intelligentsia, 1905-1922”

Korobeynikov’s talk focused on the perception of the events of 1917 by the Yakut Intelligentsia. It analyzed the spread and penetration of global ideas about nationalism, education and government and their impact on the Yakut national movement.

All presentations were followed by lively discussions and good constructive criticism. We hope that the seminar was a valuable experience for all participants and that they benefited from the feedback given and contacts made during the two days. 

Report by Svetlana Koltunova (BA student, Department of History)