Political Outbreaks against the Liberal Order (1917-1939). Practices and Celebrations
Institute of Social Sciences – University of Lisbon
DECEMBER 14-15, 2022
Recently, the scientific community has rethought the political outbreaks that characterized the interwar period. In 2017, new studies on the Bolshevik revolution emerged and the same is expected to happen this year, as this October will mark the centenary of the March on Rome – the zero day of the Black Shirts’ calendar – which officially decreed the beginning of the 'fascist revolution' according to Mussolini's regime.
Although the Bolshevik and the Fascist uprisings represent two epoch-making events, many other political violent upheavals and revolutions disrupted around Europe and Latin America in the aftermath of the Great War, manifesting a tangible discontent with the liberal governing system, its organization, its laxities, and corruptions. These movements, that encompassed both right and left political spectrum, represented attempts to give solutions to the political, economic, and social crisis that occurred in those years. Many of them did not go beyond the moment of the revolt; others paved the way for further overturns or regime changes; and still others inaugurated models and established political systems that would profoundly influence the political landscape for decades to come.
As shown in Mona Ozouf’s seminal work, the festivities associated with the French Revolution can be considered a pioneering model in setting the tone for such a system of rituals, which both involved people in politics and controlled them. It is nonetheless true that the celebratory policies of the revolution reached a political climax during the interwar period. On the one hand, this is due to the outbreaks of the ‘two October revolutions’ – the one in Moscow in 1917 and the one in Rome in 1922 – whose celebrations quickly took on the connotations of a public show, in which people, in their dual role of actors and spectators, were informed and educated to the new political values. On the other hand, it is attributable to the social and cultural upsets that the Great War caused – including the consolidation of mass parties, the rise of dictatorial regimes and its
new conceptions of ‘democracy’ – as well as to the introduction of new broadcasting and visual media for propaganda, which raised the bar on the public use of revolution.
Within this framework, this call for paper does not intend to discuss the revolution/counterrevolution dichotomy nor compare the revolts which occurred after 1917. On the contrary, it aims to analyze the public use of these revolutions and political outbreaks, to be understood as the set of policies that narrates and visually represents a selection of historical events in order to legitimize a new political system and generate consensus around it. Furthermore, while not excluding original contributions on celebrations in Italy and Russia, this call for paper is particularly interested in investigating how other political outbreaks and new antiliberal regimes in Europe and Latin America gave rise to celebratory/legitimizing practices.
Scholars are invited to send papers considering a host of related questions and issues, including (but not limited to) the following:
- What kind of storytelling was used to narrate the revolution/political outbreak? How was it embodied?
- How long has the myth of revolution/political outbreak persisted? How has the founding myth of the revolution been readapted over time?
- What kind of artistic representations were used? What was the role of artists and intellectuals in elaborating the celebrations of the political outbreak?
- Is it possible to talk about an overlapping between art and revolution?
- How was the urban space affected? What traces did the commemorations leave in the cities?
- How influential were the Fascist and Soviet models in other contexts? Did a cross-contamination between different celebrations exist?
- Did counter-narratives exist?
- What role did the population play in the celebrations of the uprising? How was the revolution/political outbreak commemorated in the expatriate communities? What celebrations were organized abroad?