Call for Papers

DEADLINE TONIGHT: The Great War, the Russian Revolution and Mass Rebellions 1916-1923 – Stream at the Historical Materialism Annual Conference

19th May 2017

The Great War, the Russian Revolution and Mass Rebellions 1916-1923 – Stream at the Historical Materialism Annual Conference


Deadline for abstracts EXTENDED: 31 May 2017





Revolutions Against Capital, Capital Against Revolutions?

Central London, 9-12 November 2017


Mass rebellions against Capital and Empire shook the globe in the wake of World War One and the Russian Revolution. To friend and foe alike, the seizure of power by insurgent workers and organised socialists in October 1917 constituted the advanced outpost of an international offensive against the capitalist order. From the 1916 insurrections in Ireland and Central Asia, to the revolutionary proletarian insurgencies in Western and Central Europe, to the countless anti-colonial rebellions of dominated peoples in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, it seemed for a brief historical moment that imperial capitalism was on the verge of defeat.

Few people today would deny the enormous social, political, and cultural impact of these popular rebellions. Yet a major question mark hangs over their current relevancy, as well as the various radical traditions they expressed and engendered. The rise and collapse of Stalinism, the defaults and defeats of revolutionary nationalism, and the triumphant neoliberal onslaught have cast a pall over the promise of the 1916-23 upsurge and the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist project(s) it came to represent. 

Capital, with all its crises and contingencies, remains. As the political centre collapses, space is opening for new forces to fill the void. But, one century later, it remains to be seen whether the Russian Revolution and the international insurgencies of the era can recapture the imaginations of those seeking to radically overhaul existing social relations. 

It is in this open and uncertain context that the Annual Historical Materialism Conference will mark the centennial anniversary of 1917 by hosting the stream ‘The Great War, the Russian Revolution and Mass Rebellions 1916-1923’.

We invite submissions for papers that take a fresh look at look at the 1916-1923 insurgencies; the impact of these events throughout the Twentieth Century; and their reverberations on (or relevancy for) the world today. 

A vast uncharted intellectual and historiographic territory lies beyond the lifeless established paradigms of so much academic and activist literature. Much of the story of these multifarious popular upheavals remains to be told. Many questions long thought settled – from classical Marxist analysis and strategy, to the early dynamics of class, nationality, gender, and sexuality in mass struggle and state power, to the divergent trajectories of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary social transformations – merit serious re-examination. Uncovering how these legacies can speak to our current realities is no less vital a task.

It is our hope that this stream can mark a major moment for a collective reinvigoration of Marxist and radical engagement with the experiences of the highest point in the Twentieth century’s revolutionary tide.