2017 AAA Panel: The Beginnings and the Ends of Revolution

CfP: 2017 American Anthropological Association (Washington DC, 29/11-03/12)
Panel: The Beginnings and the Ends of Revolution: The Legacy of the October Revolution and Emancipatory Action

Mariya Ivancheva (University of Leeds)
Saygun Gökarıksel (Bogazici University)

Discussant: Don Kalb (Central European University/Utrecht University)

Revolution is a Janus-faced concept that “evokes dialectically linked oppositions: light and darkness; rupture and continuity; liberation and oppression; hope and disillusion” (Mayer 2000). Revolution refers to “breaking the chains that bind the future” in the sense Marx spoke of it (Balibar 2003). If revolutions are also political events that forcefully pose the problem of beginning, how may we think about the end/s of the revolution (if there is an end)? What oppositions, apporias, or contradictions do those ends pose? How might anthropology contribute to the study of the beginnings and ends of the revolution, and what would be the value of that study at our current political conjuncture?

This panel aims to explore from an anthropological perspective the symbolic, epistemic, sociopolitical space opened up by the event or process of the October Revolution, the dissemination of its ideologies and practices to different socialist, liberal, and (post)colonial regimes, as well as its various ends across the world. In that, we would like to explore from situated points of views, especially in the “peripheries” of ‘actually existing’ socialism and revolutionary processes:

— the collective idea, imaginary, and desire of revolution (and communism) with its temporality and emancipatory visions and motivations, as well as the ideas and premonitions of its betrayal and death

— the policies/ practices/ political projects of different scales of social engineering and development and their (often hybrid) adoption or adaptation in diverse contexts

— the links between really existing socialist countries and the non-aligned world that followed the collapse of state socialism (especially in the former Socialist bloc and Yugoslavia), and their repercussions across the world; and the legacies of the Revolution for contemporary social movements and political action, but also as a source of legitimacy or rallying point for the recent nationalist and right-wing populist movements.

Through historical inquiry and ethnographic work, the papers will explore the extent to which the October Revolution and its real experience (its ideas, practices, and institutions), has been and continues to be not just a temporarily and spatially isolated event, but a global experience. This approach will also allow us to discuss the difficult, yet crucial nexus between really existing socialism and the developments we experience in our present reality in 2017: the uncoupling of identity politics and class politics; the rise of nationalism, right-wing populism; the crises of liberal democracy and neoliberal capitalism; and the impasse of technocratic neoliberal governance.

If interested, please send your abstract (max 250 words) by 5 March 2017 to Mariya Ivancheva m.ivancheva@leeds.ac.uk and Saygun Gökarıksel saygun.gokariksel@boun.edu.tr

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