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“100 Year Anniversary of the 1917 Revolution”- What Were They Thinking? Russian intellectuals interpret the revolution, 1917-1922

October 18, 2017 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Please join us on October 18th, 2017 for “What Were They Thinking? Russian intellectuals interpret the revolution, 1917-1922”, a talk by Jane Burbank, Professor of History & Russian & Slavic Studies. This is the second event in the lecture series entitled “100 Year Anniversary of the 1917 Revolution”, hosted by the NYU Jordan Center and co-sponsored by the NYU Department of History.

It was quite a year: an autocracy collapsed, power spilled onto the streets, and the world’s first successful socialist revolution unfolded in Petrograd. It was the end of an era and the start of another. Not surprisingly the controversy continues, with many of us finding meaning and a model, others a dire warning, and still others lessons on how to do it differently. Five events at the NYU Jordan Center will adopt different approaches to that same year and consider multiple possible meanings — from the angst of intellectuals to the nature of non-capitalist law and value to longue duree of world history. The lecture series culminates in a keynote by the renowned Sheila Fitzpatrick and roundtable with scholars representing diverse disciplinary perspectives: literature, culture, history and politics.

In her lecture, Jane Burbank takes us back to the revolutionary years when no one knew what would become of the Russian state and of Bolshevik power.  Nonetheless, engaged Russian intellectuals and activists began right away to analyze the actions of the new government and to interpret the significance of the revolution.  We’ll revisit theorists with a variety of political views who together produced a panoramic portrait of the revolution from its midst.

Jane Burbank graduated from Reed College in Russian literature in 1967. She completed an M.A. in Soviet Studies at Harvard University and received her Ph.D. in History from Harvard in 1981. Burbank taught at Harvard University, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Michigan (where she directed the Center for Russian and East European Studies), before coming to NYU in 2002. She has been a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris; the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan; and the Humboldt University, Berlin. In her first monograph, Intelligentsia and Revolution: Russian Views of Bolshevism, 1917-1922, Burbank explored the interpretations of the Bolshevik revolution produced by Russian intellectuals – from anarchists to nationalists – during the revolution and civil war. Russian Peasants Go to Court: Legal Culture in the Countryside, 1905-1917, based on both statistical analysis and case studies, revealed, contrary to entrenched opinion, that Russian peasants used their local courts extensively and voluntarily. From the 1990s, Burbank has worked on several collective projects concerning Russian empire. One of her co-edited volumes, Russian Empire: Space, People, Power 1700-1930, brings together the work of a team of scholars working in Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Great Britain. Burbank’s most recent book, co-written with Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference, won the World History Association’s Book Prize for 2011. She is now working on a monograph about imperial law and sovereignty in the province of Kazan (today’s Tatarstan) from 1870 to 1917.

For more information regarding the “100 Year Anniversary of the 1917 Revolution” lecture series, please contact jordan.russia.center@nyu.edu.

Watch the event video here

Read the event recap here

Image: “Lenin, Vladimir: during the Russian Revolution, 1917”. Photo. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 28 Aug. 2017. <https://www.britannica.com/event/Russian-Revolution-of-1917?oasmId=121015>


October 18, 2017
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
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Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia
(212) 992-6575


NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia
19 University Place, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003 United States
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