Conference « The Asian Arc of the Russian Revolution: Setting the East Ablaze? » / Singapore / November 16-17 2017

Université Sorbonne Paris Cité / the National University of Singapore, Deadline : 15 June 2017

Université Sorbonne Paris Cite and the National University of Singapore are pleased to announce a two-day conference on the trajectory of the Russian Revolution in Asia, broadly defined to include the Asian territories of the Russian Empire as well as Northeast, South and Southeast Asia. Scholars working in all relevant disciplines, including history, political science, Russian and Asian studies, economics, cultural studies, sociology and anthropology are invited to submit proposals for fifteen- to twenty-minute papers or panels addressing this theme. The conference will include academic panels, a historiographical roundtable, and keynote speeches by leading scholars in the field of Russo-Asian history.

Four years before the Russian Revolution of 1917, Lenin wrote in Pravda that an alliance of Asian workers with the proletariat of “all civilised countries” would liberate the peoples of Europe and Asia: “No force on earth on prevent its victory.” When the Bolsheviks claimed power in November 1917, however, the impact on the Russian empire’s Asian periphery and on other Asian territories was more ambiguous. The Bolsheviks grappled with the legacies of a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional empire; to its Asian populations, the soviet project could be liberating or an extension of Great Russian imperialism. Further afield on the Asian continent, the soviets’ rhetoric of global revolution was both an incitement and a threat, especially in a region marked by imperial conflict and growing nationalism. As the arc of revolution spread ever wider, it was filtered through multiple lenses: Religious, ethnic, imperial, national, colonial.

This conference explores how the Russian empire’s Asian populations and Russia’s Asian neighbours perceived, responded to, refashioned and re-appropriated the Revolution of 1917. How was the Revolution transformed as it reached Asia, and what impact did it have? How did Asian populations interpret and recast the events of 1917? In so doing, the conference aims to expand on existing research into the Revolution by integrating it with the growing fields of global and transnational history, frontier studies, and Asian studies. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The impact on diasporic communities and ethnic and religious minorities
  • Responses in Asian territories, both within the Russian imperial polity and across the Asian continent
  • Revolutionaries: transnational networks and revolutionary geography
  • The legacy of the Russian Revolution in Asian regions and countries
  • Visualising the Revolution: the impact on visual cultures and the literary world

Interested participants should submit a 300-word abstract and a CV to Dr Yuexin Rachel Lin (spplyr@nus.edu.sg) by 15 June 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be made by early July. Those accepted are expected to submit a paper on their proposed topic to the conference organisers by 20 October. Papers will be pre-circulated among all attendees to facilitate substantive discussion during the conference and give sufficient time for commentators. The joint conference committee hopes to select some papers for publication. Subsidies for travel — including airfare — and subsistence will be available for participants selected to present papers at the conference.

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