Conference "Civil War(S) From The Dniestr River To The Pacific Ocean After 1917: Multi-Level Approaches To A Conflict" 2019

Страна: Франция

Город: Paris

Тезисы до: 01.05.2019

Даты: 12.12.19 — 14.12.19

Е-мейл Оргкомитета:

Организаторы: U of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and partners


A hundred years ago, the former Russian empire entered the “Naked Year,” a paroxysm of the civil war that erupted after the 1917 revolutions. For a long time, this war was considered to be a fight for power between the “Reds” and the “Whites.”

This description is now challenged by interpretations using a far more diverse colour chart: historians currently use shades of red and white, not forgetting the “green” of the rebel peasants and the colours of different national movements that emerged during that period. Today, these times of trouble are not only understood as a fight for power, but also as an infinite fragmentation of the space between concurring powers and authorities. The decay and the subsequent disappearance of the Imperial state made way for the emergence of multiple institutions (states, but not only) that were created on the basis of limited territories, political, social or ethnic groups.

It is this very diversity that this conference aims to study. It seeks to deconstruct, for a better understanding and comprehension, the big concepts used by historians. Shall we speak about the civil war or about civil wars (as does J. Smele)? What is this “war?” Is it a sum of several conflicts? What are the groups usually referred to as “Reds,” “Whites,” “Anarchists,” “Nationalists” etc.? How can we define these actors? What are their practices?

Thanks to new archival sources which have been made available, we seek to work at different levels of analysis. The first approach is a vertical one: we need to think about the role of leaders and rulers but also simple soldiers and activists. These categories can and must also be geographical: local studies, at a micro level, will be welcomed. The vastness of the post-imperial space presumes multiple situations, each of whom merits to be studied and compared in order to avoid the unified narrative that the participants tried to put forward, especially after the events. We also need to readdress the concepts of centre and periphery, thinking about the structuring of this space.

At a micro-level, the individual had to react to the conflict depending on his/her social determinants (class, gender, nationality…). The sociology of contemporary civil wars might help us to analyse personal trajectories, to understand how people got involved in the conflict or refused to take part in it, tried to adapt themselves and to survive. It may also help to understand how people suffered from social, ethnic, gender assignments or how the Civil War represented a turning point in the life of certain people and could even create opportunities for social promotion.

The question of violence—sparked by revolution and counter-revolution—was at the centre of scholarly attention after the “end of communism” and focused on institutional coercion. It is now understood in a more plural form (including rapes, pogroms…) and placed in a broader post-World War I context. This approach allows us to compare the situation in the former Tsarist Empire with other countries in order to investigate interactions and interferences between countries and to point out similarities and specificities.

Different chronological frames could also be useful to understand the Civil war in depth. Analysis might be centered on the events or include a larger period. The conflict can be traced in its enduring representations in images, sounds, and objects, and in individual behaviours and in social relationships. It was a “formative experience” (Sheila Fitzpatrick) not only for the Soviet regime and its actors but also for the society and contributed for a long time to give shape to their interaction and practices. These years of deprivation, arbitrariness and violence caused traumas that individuals, families, social groups and institutions have had to overcome by producing various narratives, but sometimes just by forgetting or trying to forget the tragic events.

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