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16-17 November 2017, Yale-NUS College, Singapore


The Asian Arc of the Russian Revolution: Setting the East Ablaze? is a joint conference organised by Université Sorbonne Paris Cité (USPC) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), and generously funded by a grant from both institutions. The conference will be held on 16-17 November at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

At USPC, the conference organising committee comprises Professor Sabine Dullin, Dr Etienne Peyrat and Dr Aude-Cecile Monnot, all of the Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po. Professor Naoko Shimazu of Yale-NUS College, Dr Yuexin Rachel Lin and Mr Khasan Redjaboev – both with the National University of Singapore – make up the NUS half of the committee.

The centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution has seen a slew of retrospectives assessing the impact of the bolsheviks’ seizure of power in Russia itself and in its European neighbours. Lenin and his party, however, inherited a transcontinental empire with a vast Asian periphery, from the Caucasus in the West to Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast. They spoke confidently of a “global revolution” that would ignite not only the west, but also the peoples and countries of Asia, and talked of dismantling the discriminatory, colonialist “prison of nationalities” that was the tsarist empire.

It is therefore crucial to examine the Revolution from the perspective of Russia’s Asian population and Asian neighbours. How was the revolutionary message transmitted and received in Baku or Beijing? How did the upheavals of the subsequent Russian Civil War affect the empire’s Asian territories and nearby powers, such as China and Japan? Crucially, how was the Revolution reinterpreted in the wider Asian region, given Asian intellectual currents and political concerns? Answering these questions puts Asian perspectives on these world-changing events front and centre of the research agenda, and forms the first step towards a truly global history of the Russian Revolution.

We hope that this conference will show how the Revolution had a far-reaching impact beyond the traditional European “core”, and how socialist and internationalist ideas commingled with Asian thought, aspirations and cultures. It will question the very concept of a “Russian” revolution, bounded purely by the borders of the tsarist and soviet state. Instead, a kaleidoscope of revolutions took place throughout the empire, spilling across its porous borders, taking on a multitude of Asian “faces”.

The two-day conference brings together leading interdisciplinary historians (political, social, anthropological, and environmental) on the Russian Revolution in the Asian borderlands. It invites comparative study across disciplines and geographical areas. At the same time, it will build bridges between western and Asian scholars working on the Revolution, facilitating an exchange of knowledge, perspectives and potential future avenues of collaboration. We hope to showcase the work of French, Asian and Russian scholars, whose work may be relatively underexplored.



Download the programme (as of 7 November 2017) here.

Thursday, 16 November

09:20 Conference registration opens

09:45 Opening remarks and introduction on USPC-NUS collaboration

10:00 Session 1: Revolution in Central Asia and the Caucasus (Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre) Chair: Mate Rigo (Yale-NUS College) Cloe Drieu (École des hautes études en sciences sociales) “Revolutionary Situation in Turkestan (February 1917-February 1918): The Local Rationales of the Russian Revolutions” Etienne Peyrat (Sciences Po Lille) “Freedom on the Fence: Dynamics of Revolution in the Caucasian Borderlands, 1917-1919” Aude-Cecile Monnot (Sciences Po) “’Down with Imperialist Legality’? Mapping the 1917 Revolutionary Turn in the Field of Justice in Central Asia” Aminat Chokobaeva (Australian National University) “The Broken Trough: Revolution and Civil War in Semirechye, 1917- 1921”

12:00 Lunch (all welcome)

13:00 Session 2: Making Revolution in Asia (Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre) Chair: Yuexin Rachel Lin (National University of Singapore) Anna Belogurova (Freie Universität Berlin) “The Prewar Philippine Communist Movement” Jérémie Tamiatto (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) “Comintern Agents in the Chinese Revolution” Radityo Dharmaputra, M. Anugrah Pratama and Tisa Larasati (Universitas Airlangga) “Russian Revolution and Indonesian Communist Movement: Understanding the Relationship between Islam and Communism in Indonesia” Alisa Shablovskaia (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3) “Bandits, Patriots and Nomads: Early Soviet Revolutionary Designs in Iran” Aleksandr Korobeinikov (Higher School of Economics St Petersburg) “Revolutionary Processes on the Northeast: Post-Imperial Political Projects of the Yakut Intelligentsia, 1905-1919”

15:00 Tea break (all welcome)

15:30 Session 3: Revolutionary Currents across Borders and Communities (Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre) Chair: Per Anders Rudling (Lund University) Yoshiro Ikeda (Tokyo University) “The Provisional Government and the East Within and Outside Russia” Xavier Hallez (École des hautes études en sciences sociales) “The Revolution in the ‘Orient’ by Soviet Russia’s ‘Orientals’” Ivan Sablin (Ruhr University Bochum) “A Revolution for Asia: Koreans and Buryat-Mongols between the Russian Imperial Revolution and the Soviet New Imperialism, 1917- 1926” Xie Kankan (University of California, Berkeley) “Estranged Comrades: Communism, Identity Politics and Interwoven Networks of the Late Colonial Malay World, 1927-1942” (Talk the Communist Talk: The Comintern and the 1926/27 Communist Uprisings of the Netherlands East Indies)

17:30 Break

18:00 Public keynote: “Transnational Communism and Anticolonialism: Reassessing the Comintern in Asia” (Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre) Chair: Naoko Shimazu (Yale-NUS) Speaker: Sabine Dullin (Sciences Po)

19:30 Dinner in Cendana Rector’s Common Room

Friday, 17 November

10:00 Session 4: The Revolution in Images, Places, Texts, Ideas (Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre) Chair: Maria Taroutina (Yale-NUS College) Alison Carroll (University of Melbourne) “The Impact of Soviet Arts Practices through the Asia-Pacific Region” Zhang Jianhua (Beijing Normal University) “The Memory of Moscow Restaurant in Beijing: Changing Images of the October Revolution and Soviet Culture in China” Steven Lee (University of California, Berkeley) “Writing Revolution across Northeast Asia” Nachiket Kulkarni (Jawaharlal Nehru University) “Bolshevik Revolution and Anti-Caste Movements: Possible Alternative Paths to Socialism in India”

12:00 Lunch (all welcome)

13:00 Session 5: The Revolution’s Legacy in South and Southeast Asia (Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre) Chair: Claudine Ang (Yale-NUS College) Farabi Fakih (Universitas Gadjah Mada) “Responses to the Revolution in the Indonesian and Dutch Press” Jittipat Poonkham (Thammasat University) “The Russian Revolution and Anticommunism in Thailand: A Genealogical Trajectory” Tuong Vu (University of Oregon) “The Russian Revolution and Vietnam” Vinay Lal (University of California, Los Angeles) “The Russian Revolution in the Indian Nationalist Imaginary”

15:00 Tea break (all welcome)

15:30 Roundtable and conclusion (Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre) Chair: Sabine Dullin (Sciences Po) and Naoko Shimazu (Yale-NUS College) Cloe Drieu (École des hautes études en sciences sociales) Yoshiro Ikeda (Tokyo University) Tuong Vu (University of Oregon)

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