Call for Papers: Workshop on Transnational History of Socialism (Second Half of 19th Century to 1914)

Two centuries after the birth of Karl Marx, European researchers show a renewed interest in socialism studies. However, this has coincided with the unprecedented decline of the traditional workers’ movement.

Frequently, these studies involve an international and transnational dimension. Internationalism can be studied under this light. According to Marcel Van der Linden, to assess and analyse this school of history, the researcher must get out of his own cultural and linguistic sphere and be removed from domestic history [Van der Linden, 2017].

Using new methods, the current seminar aims to study the relations and differences between socialism and socialists of different nationalities. The framework of the nation-state, still predominant in the studies about the transmission and diffusion of the Left ideas, must be transcended to grasp the global challenge [Middell, 2004]. Moreover, refocusing socialism studies in this global direction means finally exceeding the classic Eurocentric vision.

According that, this seminar is interested in all these « transnational » manifestations of socialism : circulation of texts, ideas and socialist actors between the different countries, cross-border labour, transnational movements, and positions of socialists in conflict period. In short, this means any topic that transcends or even clears borders. Specific attention will be given to translation of politic wrights or speeches, a relatively neglected field, so far as this allows for a re-examining of the transmission process in a new light. Populations particularly concerned by transnational practices (one of the most controversial cases of « transnationalism » at the time was the Polish case) deserve specific attention in this respect.

Additionally, these sessions may also address the issue of institutional relations between different nations and empires. Proposing a transnational history makes it possible to study the entanglements and interconnections of socialist institutions and other forms of international solidarity. This can be done through the study of institutions such as the Socialist International, the Bureau Socialiste International and the various international meetings at which socialists tried to put into practice the international dimension of their principles.

As it was proposed by Michel Espagne and Michael Werner, who dedicated their analysis to the diffusion of the German thought in France, it is essential to focus on tools that allow for the diffusion and circulation of ideas and knowledge [Espagne & Werner, 1988]. For too long, however, studies on representations and transmissions has given precedence to ideas ; the material vectors of these transfers, equally important, have been neglected. Studying the circulation of socialist works between various socialist centers (the role of translations being a key element), not to mention the role that grey literature played in these exchanges, may constitute an essential component from this point of view. Studies should also focus on the influence of the national framework to the foreign countries, which induces a diffusionist logic, but must go beyond this perspective taking into account external and reciprocal influences in the process of building an « internationalist thinking ».

The seminar also aims to question differences of opinion within political families and between nations on the question of internationalism, one of the main problems of the socialist thought. Just as historiography has attempted to conceptualize an « Era of Revolutions » [Hobsbawm, 1962] can we not speak of an « Era of Socialism » that goes beyond the European framework? Thus we can also expand analysis to socialists in exile [Aprile, 2010], voluntary or not, who have been able to get closer to foreign socialist elements. Contributions should be careful not to neglect the discourse and representations of socialist internationalism confronted with practices.

A special place will be reserved for contributions relating to peace and pacifism, key elements of socialist language and practice. This has been studied mainly on a country-by-country basis, but there is a need to take into account the transnational dimension of process.

Proposals must be concerned with history of socialism but can also be about another aspect of the political and ideological spectrum in a comparative perspective.


Practical arrangements

Proposals are expected to be received before May 10th  2018 :

Responses will be sent before May 25th

Work languages are: French, English and German

Travelling and accommodation expenses will be covered.


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