Conference – life and times of Bert Ramelson

March 18, 2012

The Working Class Organised – Conference/Rally on the life and times of Bert Ramelson (former national and industrial organiser for the Communist Party of Great Britain) and the lessons to be learned for today’s struggle

The Bishopsgate Institute
Main Hall, 230 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4QH
(nearest tube Liverpool St.)

Saturday 5th May 2012 from 10am till 5pm

Admission Free

Chair: Rodney Bickerstaffe

Contributors: Tom Sibley, Roger Seifert, Louise Raw, Richard Baxell

Speakers: Max Levitas, Deanna Lubelski, Kevin Halpin, Mick Costello, Keith Ewing, Mary Davis, Graham Stevenson, John Foster, Ann Field, John Haylett, Bill Greenshields, Graham Stevenson, Tony Burke

If you would like to attend, have questions or would like to help, please contact Terry McCarthy at


Constructing the ‘Soviet’? conference – call for papers

February 27, 2012

Call for Papers – Constructing the “Soviet”? Political Consciousness, Everyday Practices, New Identities

The European University at St Petersburg, Russian Federation, 20-21 April 2012:

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union a generation of historians has grown up for whom the USSR is not so much personal memory but rather an object of study. Our annual conference provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to present their research on various aspects concerning the phenomenon of the “Soviet” alongside with comments by well-known academics: anthropologists, historians and sociologists. Previous conferences were supported by the French-Russian Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences and by the German Historical Institute in Moscow (DHI). Ten best papers of 2011 were published by DHI as a book.

At the conference in April 2012 we would like to discuss the following topics:

  • The development of the Soviet science and technology. Academic science: control and freedom of thought. Cult of invention and innovation. Scientific and technological cooperation and competition with foreign countries: joint projects, exchange of experts.
  • Conquest of space and time. The appropriation of space as a political project: great construction projects, cultivation of virgin land, conquest of the outer space. Mapping the “Soviet”: real and imaginary boundaries, resources and communication. Reorganization of the calendar: Soviet holidays and festivities.
  • Soviet material values. Asceticism and luxury, egalitarianism and elitism: struggle of opposites or peaceful coexistence? Standards of “good life” and their evolution.
  • Educating the “new man”: education, everyday life, leisure.
  • Lifeworld of the Soviet activist and exemplary citizen.
  • Pre-revolutionary practices in the Soviet life.
  • Mechanisms of administration. Vertical and horizontal communication of power, personnel and nomenclature policies, career ladder.
  • “Soviet-style” decision making.
  • Glasnost? and silence in the USSR. The boundaries of free speech: censorship, ?spetskhran?, samizdat. The culture of “Soviet” reading and writing.

We invite undergraduate and PhD students specializing in the humanities and social sciences to send us their short papers to participate in the conference. No remote participation is possible. The conference language is Russian.

A collected volume containing the papers will be published by the beginning of the conference. The electronic version of last year’s collection is available at

Requirements for the papers: no more than 15,000 characters (including spaces, footnotes and bibliography); MS Word (versions 1997 to 2003), automatic footnotes. Please also include your contact information, university, department and year of education.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: March 1, 2012 at:

The European University at St.Petersburg can pay for transportation within Russia (railway tickets) and accommodation only for a part of the conference participants.

The CfP in Russian can be read at

Conference: ‘Reform Communism since 1945’

September 11, 2011

‘Reform Communism’ since 1945 in Comparative Historical Perspective

Location: Room 3.26, Arts 2, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ

Date: 22 Oct 2011 – 23 Oct 2011
Organiser: Dr Matthias Neumann
Institution: University of East Anglia
Ticket Price: Free, but with limited spaces

Conference hosted by UEA School of History in conjunction with the journal Socialist History: ‘Reform Communism’ Since 1945 in Comparative Historical Perspective’.

The collapse of the USSR and the Eastern bloc in the wake of Gorbachev’s perestroika seemed to show that communism was essentially unreformable. It could be preserved, dismantled, or overthrown, but it could not be reconstructed as a viable alternative to capitalism, free from the defects of its Leninist-Stalinist prototype.

Prior to 1989-91, however, reform communism was a live political issue in many countries. At different times in countries as diverse as Yugoslavia, the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Western Europe, Japan, and China, the leaderships of communist parties themselves sought to change direction, re-evaluate their own past, correct mistakes and so on with the aim of cleansing, strengthening and improving communism, rather than undermining or dismantling it. In countries ruled by communist parties this process usually involved political relaxation and an easing of repression, and was often accompanied by an upsurge of intellectual and cultural ferment.

The aim of this conference is to consider reform communism as a distinct phenomenon, which can usefully be distinguished from, on the one hand, mere changes of line or leader without any engagement with a party’s own past and the assumptions which underpinned it, and on the other, dissenting and oppositional activity within and outside parties which failed to change the party’s direction.

Selected papers will be published in 2012 in a special issue of Socialist History ( devoted to the subject.

Attendance of the conference will be free of charge, but we ask that anyone wishing to attend registers in advance by emailing Francis King on and/or Matthias Neumann on at School of History, UEA, Norwich NR4 7TJ. Any enquiries should be addressed to us.

Download an information poster

Download a copy of the programme

Supported by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

Conference: ‘Local Communisms’, 1917-89

May 30, 2011

Programme and Fees: ‘Local Communisms’, 1917-89
First Annual Conference of the Journal Twentieth Century Communism

Venue: University of Glamorgan (South Wales, UK)
Date: Thursday 30th June and Friday 1st July 2011

The study of communist parties globally has, perhaps inevitably, always involved finding a balance between overarching relationships with Moscow and the specific influences of a diversity of local environments in which the individual parties functioned. While recognising the importance of the former, this conference aims to address the extent to which national and sub-nation political, social and cultural traditions and developments, crises and continuities shaped the character of ‘world communism’.

The conference programme can now be downloaded here. (Updated May 27th.)

Please register to attend the conference at our online form.

The conference fee, payable by all speakers and attendees, will be as follows:

For academic and others in employment, the fee is £20.00 for one day and £35.00 for both. The registration fee covers afternoon coffees/tea and biscuits. Lunch is charged separately at £9.50 a head.

For postgraduates, the fee is £10.00 for one day or £20.00 for both. Lunch is charged separately at £9.50 a head.

See map for the route from Cardiff Queen Street Railway Station to the Atrium.

Download further details of travel and accommodation here.

View Conference Home Page.

Contact: Lois Thomas (Conference Co-ordinator) ( / Dr Norry LaPorte (

Conference: Communism and Youth in the twentieth century

January 30, 2011

One-day conference – 5 April 2011
Old Whiteknights House, Seminar Room
Graduate School in Arts and Humanities
University of Reading


9:30-10:00 – Registration

10:00-11:00 – Opening address: Kevin Morgan (University of Manchester): From Infantile Disorders to the Fathers of the People: Youth and Generation in the Study of International Communism

11:00-11.15 – Coffee

11:15-13:15 – Morning Session: Communist education (Chair: Matthew Worley, University of Reading) Guillaume Quashie-Vauclin (Université Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne): Between Dance and Demonstration: the Union of the Republican Youth of France. 1945-1956; Elke Weesjes (University of Sussex – United Academics): Communist Identity: the Public vs. the Private Sphere; Leo Goretti (University of Reading): Irma Bandiera and Maria Goretti: Gender Role Models for Communist Girls in the Early Cold War Years (1945-1956)

13:15-14:00 – Lunch

14:00-14.30 – Screening : trailer of the movie The Train to Moscow (Kiné-Vez Film)

14:30-17:00 – Afternoon Session: Communism, Consumerism and Mass Culture (Chair: tba) Pia Koivunen (University of Tampere): A Dream Come True: Experiencing Socialism at the World Youth Festivals in the 1940s-1950s; Mark Fenemore (Manchester Metropolitan University): Glossy Socialism: the Youth Magazine Neues Leben, 1954-1969; Matthew Worley (University of Reading): Shot By Both Sides: Punk, Politics and the End of Consensus in Britain.

This event is funded by the Royal Historical Society and the Economic History Society. Attendance is free but registration is required. For any additional information please contact the organisers: Matthew Worley (; Leo Goretti ( More information on the Facebook event page

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

Working class episode – Wiltshire history day

October 10, 2010

Working-class episodes
Saturday 6 November 2010 – 10.00am-2.30pm
St Margaret’s Hall
Bradford-on Avon BA15 1LH
Admission free

The ‘Trowbridge martyr’: Thomas Helliker and the Wiltshire Outrages of 1802
Prof. Adrian Randall, Birmingham University

Swing Rebellion in Wiltshire
Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary, South West Trades Union Congress

Chartism in rural Wiltshire, 1838-1842
Steve Poole, Principal History Lecturer, University of the West of England

Strikes and Socialism in Swindon in the 1960s and 1970s
Derique Montaut, Labour Party Leader, Swindon Borough Council

Phyllis and Idris Rose: Trowbridge communist councillors
Dave Chapple, CWU and Rosie McGregor, UNISON

Organised by White Horse (Wiltshire) Trades Union Council

For further details contact: Andy Newman 07764 563855

20 Jahre Deutsche Einheit – 20 Jahre gesamtdeutsche Forschung. Zwei Konferenzen ziehen eine Zwischenbilanz

September 12, 2010

Details of two forthcoming conferences in Germany on different aspects of the GDR:

Am 23. und 24. September lädt das Institut für Zeitgeschichte gemeinsam mit der Bundesstiftung zur Konferenz „DDR-Geschichte in Forschung und Lehre. Bilanz und Perspektiven“ ein, deren Programm Sie hier finden: Sollten Sie an der Tagung ganz oder zeitweilig teilnehmen wollen, melden Sie sich freundlicherweise bis zum 20. September bei Frau Georgi vom IfZ an

»Ostdeutschland und die Politikwissenschaft. Eine Bilanz 20 Jahre nach der (Wieder-)Vereinigung« ist die Konferenz überschrieben, zu der Prof. Dr. Astrid Lorenz, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, die Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences und die Bundesstiftung vom 30.9. bis 2.10. einladen. Das Tagungsprogramm können Sie hier einsehen: Anmeldungen bitte an Besonders möchte ich Sie noch auf zwei öffentliche Veranstaltungen im Rahmen der Konferenz aufmerksam machen:

A minimal English translation:

On 23-24 September, the Institute for Contemporary History co-hosts a the conference “GDR history in research and eduation – balance and perspecives’. The programme for the conference is available here: For more information about particpating in the confernece, please contact Mrs Georgi of the IfZ (

From 30 September to 2 Ocrober, the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences is co-hosting a conference on the theme “East Germany and poltical science: an appraisal, twenty years on”. The conference programme is available here: To register

Conference: Art Histories, Cultural Studies and the Cold War

September 12, 2010

Art Histories, Cultural Studies and the Cold War
Venue: Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London Friday 24th September 2010

Registration from 9am: Tea, Coffee & Croissant

9.45: Welcome: [Professor David Ayers; Drs Grant Pooke and Ben Thomas]

Propaganda and Photography – Chair: David Ayers
10.00: Irina Bystrova (Moscow): The Americans, Russian and the British in conditions of the Cold War: from the history of mutual perceptions

10.20: Martha and John Langford (Concordia and Victoria): Showing, Without Telling: A Cold War Tourist and His Camera

10.40: Sally Stein (Los Angeles): Photography, Feminism and the Cold War in the USA [title tbc]

11.00: Sarah James (Oxford): “Scratching the History of Men”: Humanism, Photography, Art History, and the Politics of the Subject in a Divided Germany

11.20: Coffee

11.35: Caroline Blinder (Goldsmiths): American Alphabet: On Paul Strand’s Post War Photography

11.55: Jane Powell (Kent): The Changing Iconography of Cold War Posters at the Marx Memorial Library

12.15: Victoria Zhurlvaleva (Moscow): “The Cold War of Images”: the Soviet Union in American Political Cartoons

12.35: Plenary – Discussion

1.00: Lunch

Keynote Address

2.00: Miranda Carter: Anthony Blunt: Art and Intelligence

Strand 1: Cold War Art History and Criticism – Chair: Ben Thomas
2.45: Matthew Potter (Leicester): The Neglected Field of Germanism in British Art History, 1850-1939

3.05: Ben Thomas (Kent): Edgar Wind and the Congress for Cultural Freedom

3.25: Marina Dmitrieva (Leipzig): The Renaissance behind the Iron Curtain

3.45: Tea

4.15: Ljiljana Kolesnik (Zagreb): Social Realism, Modernism and the “Formalist Turn” in Yugoslav Art Criticism of the 1950s

4.35: Monika Rutecka (Kent): Jan Matejko. A symbol of Polish National Identity or a Victim of Political Manipulation?

4.55: Peter McMaster (Kent): Peter Fuller: A Dissident Voice

5.15: Strand 1 – Discussion

Strand 2: The Contested Cultural Sphere – Chair: Grant Pooke
2.45: Joes Segal (Utrecht): Modern Art and Cultural Warfare in East and West

3.05: Christine Bianco (Oxford Brookes): Modern Art and Freedom: Cold War Cultural Politics in American Mass Magazines

3.25: Tiziana Villani (Kent): The “Biennale of Dissent”: A Page from the Italian Cold War

3.45: Tea

4.15: David Ayers (Kent): Hewlett Johnson: Britain’s ‘Red Dean’ and the Cold War

4.35: Verity Clarkson (Brighton): Contested visions of Soviet art in Britain: the Art in Revolution exhibition (1971).

4.55: Lucy Weir (Glasgow):“The Pornography of Pain”: Exploring Imagery of the Cold War in Pina Bausch’s Kontakthof and Nelken

5.15: Strand 2 – Discussion

5.30: Full Plenary – Discussion

6.00: Reception – Wine and Refreshments

Reserve Paper – Grant Pooke (Kent): Francis Klingender: Cold War Reflections and Valedictions c.1948-1955

Conference: Art Histories, Cultural Studies and the Cold War

August 23, 2010

24 September 2010
Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies
University of London
United Kingdom

Organized by the department of History & Philosophy of Art at the University of Kent, the conference aims to explore how the Cold War delineated approaches to Art History, Historiography and Cultural Studies and how its conditions and constraints shaped the professional careers and influenced the writings and ideas of scholars and cultural theorists. We welcome a wide range of perspectives that might include, for example, the use of particular methodologies, the choice of specific subjects for analysis that were explicitly politically motivated or contextualised readings of particular art historical monographs or reviews of wider art historical topics, such as ‘the Renaissance’ or ‘the history of Modern Art’, as sites of displaced ideological conflict.

A related study day on Saturday 25 September, organized by the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory (CCM) at the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, will explore Cold War Cities.

Find out more from about the conference.