Oxford seminar series

Our collaborative partner in the Socialism Goes Global project, Professor Paul Betts, gives details of a seminar series being held in Oxford:

Socialisms and Postsocialisms in a Global Context is intended as a forum for sharing and discussing work with colleagues working on resonant themes. We also envisage it as a shared space for intellectual conversation about the contributions the studies of socialism and postsocialism can make in and across different disciplines – anthropology, history, socio-legal studies, sociology, political science and international relations. We are particularly interested in thinking about what insights derived from studies of socialism and postsocialism can offer with regard to understanding the current historical moment.

We do not consider socialism and postsocialism to be a geographically delimited area of inquiry, but understand it as global and diverse phenomenon and therefore invite participation of faculty and students across disciplinary and regional expertise. We particularly welcome advanced DPhil students who want to share their written work in a constructive and supportive environment.

This is a new work-in-progress group for faculty and students working on themes related to socialism and postsocialism, broadly defined.The group is convened through a collaboration between faculty members affiliated with the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies and the School Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, but is open to all interested faculty and graduate students. If you are interested in becoming part of this group, please send an email to Dace Dzenovska: dace.dzenovska@compas.ox.ac.uk. Please include a few words about your research in the email, and, most importantly, let us know whether you would like to present a chapter or an article during HT 2018 or shortly thereafter.

We look forward to an exciting conversation!

Nicolette Makovicky, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies

Agnieszka Kubal, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies and Faculty of Law

Dace Dzenovska, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography

All sessions will take place on Thursdays at 15:30 in 61 Banbury Road.

Seminars

25 January

Reflections on the Legacy of Red Globalism

Paul Betts, Professor of Modern European History, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford

08 February

Historicising African socialisms: Kenya’s African socialism, Zambian Humanism, and Communist China’s entanglements

Yuzhou Sun, DPhil student, Faculty of History, University of Oxford

While it is commonly recognised by scholars that there is not a monolithic definition of socialism, the term has also become increasingly irrelevant following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Although the great dispute regarding ‘true’ interpretations of socialism affected the Communist bloc throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Africa, considered as a test field of Western philosophies and theories, received little scholarly attention from Marxist writers who considered African societies as too underdeveloped to host any substantial proletarian revolution led by working class. The ‘derivative thesis’, which Lal has criticised, ‘denies the relative autonomy of African thinkers vis-à-vis the world.’ Rather than trying to offer an authoritative analysis, this paper aims to construct a historiography of African socialisms through a triangulation of the global Cold War, the political culture of individual African states, and their bilateral relations with Communist countries. The divergence of political ideas and polices in African countries, which was termed by Nugent as ‘Ism schisms’, suggested that indigenisation was a complex process affecting the degree to which any political ideology would take root.

01 March

How relevant was socialist ideology in Africa’s Cold War

Miles Larmer, Professor of African History, University of Oxford

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