Citizens and Comrades: Entangled Revolutions and the Production of Knowledge Between Russia and France, 1905-1936
Holekamp, Abigail Ann
What did Russian people know about 1789 in 1905? What did French people know about 1917 in 1936? Historians of France and Russia have long argued that the French-Russian revolutionary connection is central to both French and Russian/Soviet history. Yet although this interrelationship has been studied in specific contexts, such as those of high politics or political ideology, historians have generally overlooked how the ways in which revolutionary culture circulates become crucial sites of knowledge production in their own right.This dissertation draws simultaneously from three overlapping historiographical fields—information history, the social history of knowledge, and histories of transnational circulations and exchanges—to show that the interplay of French and Russian revolutionary traditions is better understood as an ecosystem of information that circulated across borders and levels of culture in an intricate, multi-directional way. Employing a methodology of case studies spanning borders, genres, and levels of culture, it draws on a wide variety of published and archival sources to argue that there was a deeper, more popular, more creative, and more cultural relationship, over a longer period of time, between French and Russian revolutionary traditions than has previously been elucidated.With chapters on history writing, novels and music, lexicons and language, images, and theater, this dissertation demonstrates the breadth and depth of the Russian Revolution’s ongoing entanglements not only with French revolutionary culture, but also with broader a European revolutionary culture. Furthermore, these case studies demonstrate the creativity inherent in these interplays of revolutionary culture. New information that was incongruous with received knowledge did not necessarily present a roadblock for the historical actors involved. Rather, from the first Russian revolution of 1905 through to the Stalin period and the Popular Front era, these discordant moments catalyzed creativity as institutions and individuals—who comprised a wider demographic than is often assumed—attempted to reconcile different parts of their information ecosystems. Analyzing these moments complicates our historical understanding of both the long-term impact revolutions have and of how historical actors use the information available to them. We thus gain a more nuanced understanding of how revolutions and knowledge production processes work.
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