La sociobiographie des militants: autour des chantiers du Maitron

November 23, 2010

A conference on the sociobiography of militant activists at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris 7-8 Dec, to commemorate the fiftieth volume of the Maitron biographical dictionary of the French labour movement and the centenary of its founder Jean Maitron (1910-1987).

La sociobiographie des militants: autour des chantiers du Maitron

Au moment du colloque paraît, sous forme de cédérom, une nouvelle version du Dictionnaire biographique des kominterniens.

Le cédérom présente près de 800 biographies de kominterniens belges, français, luxembourgeois, suisses et de cadres de l’appareil central du Komintern. Ce dictionnaire a été réalisé sous la direction de José Gotovitch (ULB Bruxelles) et Claude Pennetier (CNRS/Paris I, CHS), avec Sylvain Boulouque (France), Michel Dreyfus (France), Peter Huber (Suisse), Brigitte Studer (Suisse), Mikhaïl Narinski (Russie), Mikhaïl Pantéleiev (Russie), Henri Wehenkel (Luxembourg), Serge Wolikow (France).

Cette édition du Dictionnaire biographique des militants du Komintern pour la Belgique, la France, le Luxembourg et la Suisse (2001) reprend et amplifie le champ saisi par la première version tout en apportant des modifications significatives à de nombreuses notices parues précédemment.

Depuis 2001, les recherches se sont poursuivies, à la fois dans les archives du RGASPI à Moscou ainsi que dans les différents pays concernés. De nouveaux travaux universitaires ont approfondi la connaissance des mondes communistes ainsi que l’histoire de l’Internationale, comme l’indique Serge Wolikow dans le balayage historiographique publié dans l’ouvrage attenant (L’internationale communiste 1919-1943. Le Komintern ou le rêve déchu du parti mondial de la Révolution, Éditions de l’Atelier).

À la faveur de ces travaux, des militants ont été révélés, ou mieux éclairés, ce qui a permis de tracer des biographies plus nourries. Et surtout, le choix du CD a permis l’extension à la fois du champ d’exploration et aussi l’allongement des notices.

José Gotovitch

Colloque organisé par le Centre d’histoire sociale du XXe siècle, Cultures et sociétés urbaines et le soutien de l’Association des Amis du Maitron et des Éditions de l’Atelier.

Paris (BNF et Centre Malher). mardi 7 décembre et mercredi 8 décembre 2010

7 décembre : Bibliothèque nationale de France, site François Mitterrand, petit amphithéâtre (accès Hall Est)
quai François-Mauriac 75013
métro RER Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (ligne 14; ligne C)

8 décembre : Centre Malher, amphithéâtre, 9 rue Malher 75004
Métro Saint-Paul, ou Bastille, ou Pont-Marie

Tito: A Biography – Geoffrey Swain

November 23, 2010

Geoffrey Swain. 2010. Tito: A Biography (London: I.B.Tauris). ISBN: 9781845117276. 232 pages. £56.50.

Josip Broz Tito was a remarkable figure in the history of Communism, the Second World War, the Balkans and post-war Eastern Europe. He was the only European besides Lenin to lead a successful Communist revolution and became one of the most renowned Communist leaders of all time. For a certain generation, he was remembered as someone who stood up to both Hitler and Stalin – and won. Tito was above all else a communist, and was devoted to the communist cause until the day he died. What made him different from other communist leaders was that his early experience of Soviet Russia had given him sufficient knowledge of the Soviet experiment to be wary of its spell. In this, the first post-communist biography of Tito, the acclaimed historian Geoffrey Swain paints a new picture of this famous figure, focusing primarily on his Communist years. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in Communist and Eastern European history.

John Saville: commitment and history

November 22, 2010

David Howell, Dianne Kirby and Kevin Morgan (eds). 2011. John Saville: commitment and history
Themes from the life and work of a socialist historian
(London: Lawrence and Wishart). ISBN 9781907103216. 224 pages (pbk) £14.99.

John Saville (1916-2009) was one of the leading socialist academics of his generation, and one of the most influential figures in British labour history. This new collection of essays offers a variety of perspectives on his lifetime’s work. A first section – commitments – assesses Saville’s activities, at different times during his life, as a communist, as a founder of the New Left, and as editor (with Ralph Miliband) of the long-running Socialist Register. The middle section – themes – looks at key themes which mattered for Saville, from revolutionary anti-imperialism in India to the politics of Cold War and debates in labour history. In part three – interventions – contributors discuss Saville’s contributions to contemporary historical understanding of Chartism, British labourism and the Cold War. The aim is to offer critical analysis and reflection in the tradition which Saville himself did so much to establish.

Contributors: Tony Adams, John Callaghan, Malcolm Chase, Madeleine Davis, Sobhanlal Datta Gupta, David Howell, Dianne Kirby, Colin Leys, Kevin Morgan and John Sakkas.

Lawrence and Wishart, 99a Wallis Road, London email
tel 020 8533 2506 fax 020 8533 7369
Published in association with the Socialist History Society

Kevin Morgan The good old cause
Madeleine Davis The New Reasoner and the Early New Left
Colin Leys ‘Honest socialists’: John Saville and the Socialist Register
John Sakkas The first casualty of a socialist foreign policy? Greece and Britain in the 1940s
Dianne Kirby Islam and the Religious Cold War
Sobhanlal Datta Gupta History re-examined: anti-imperialism, the Communist Party of India and international communism
Tony Adams Port workers and politics: religion, casual labour and voting in English docklands, 1900-1922
Malcolm Chase The Chartist movement and 1848
David Howell The ideology of labourism
John Callaghan The politics of continuity

Hobsbawm History and Politics – Gregory Elliott

November 22, 2010

Gregory Elliott. 2010. Hobsbawm: History and Politics (London: Pluto Press).

Historian Eric Hobsbawm is possibly the foremost chronicler of the modern age. His panoramic studies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, stretching from the French Revolution to the fall of Soviet communism, have informed the historical consciousness of scholars and general readers alike. At the same time, his writings on labour movements and socialist politics have occupied a central place in left-wing debates. Despite this, no extended study of Hobsbawm’s work has yet been attempted Gregory Elliott fills this gap in exemplary fashion.

Elliott analyses both the scholarly record of Hobsbawm and the intellectual and political journey that his life represents. In doing so, he seeks to situate Hobsbawm’s thought within the context of a generalised crisis of confidence on the Left after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Rich in content and written in Elliott’s authoritative and highly readable style, this book is a must for anyone with an interest in Hobsbawm and the crisis of the Left.

About The Author

Gregory Elliott is a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University. His books include Ends in Sight (Pluto, 2008), Perry Anderson: The Merciless Laboratory of History (1998) and Althusser: The Detour of Theory (2nd edition, 2006).