Russia 1917 and the Dissolution of the Old Order in Europe Biographical Itineraries, Individual Experiences, Autobiographical Reflections

13.09.2017 bis 15.09.2017

Internationale Konferenz, organisiert durch die Universitäten Basel und Genf

International conference organized by the Universities of Basel (Prof. Dr. Frithjof Benjamin Schenk) and Geneva (Prof. Dr. Korine Amacher)

Dates: 13-15 September 2017

Location: Switzerland, Landgut Castelen, Kaiseraugst (near Basel)

In 2017, we will witness the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. As new tendencies to divide once again Europe into a Western and an Eastern part can be noticed in the political sphere, 2017 will offer a unique opportunity to launch an international scholarly debate on the impact of the Russian Revolution on European history in the 20th century, including scholars both from Russia and Western Europe. Switzerland, a country that hosted many Russian revolutionaries before 1917, seems to be an ideal location for such an international historical debate.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the demise of the USSR in December 1991 resulted in a dissolution of traditional worldviews and a break with our way of understanding the history of the 20th century. Since 1991, we can observe both in Russia and among researchers in the West a growing interest in personal lives, transnational movements of people and in autobiographical practices. This renewed interest in individual trajectories and personal memories corresponds with the end of historical master narratives that followed the collapse of communism. Social clusters and major historical events are now analyzed from a micro-historical perspective to mirror individual experiences in their uniqueness and singularity. In this context, historiography has also paid more attention to the personal lives of individuals that had previously been excluded from "great history".

The Russian revolution of 1917, an event that "shook the world" and contributed significantly to the dissolution of the old order in Europe, thus may be re-examined through individual experiences. In our conference, we will discuss how the revolutionary events of 1917 shaped biographies both in Russia and in Western Europe. We will analyze the impact of individuals on the course of the revolution, in Russia and abroad, study personal experiences of actors, victims and bystanders and explore memories of the revolution in autobiographies and other ego-documents. Last but not least, we will discuss historiographical narratives that either highlighted or downplayed the role of the individual in historical events.


For further information, please consult the conference flyer


 [PDF (4.5 MB)]



Prof. Dr. Korine Amacher (University of Geneva)

Prof. Dr. Frithjof Benjamin Schenk (University of Basel)

Venue address:

Landgut Castelen,

Giebenacherstrasse 9

4302 Augst (near Basel)