cfp: Transnational Leftism: The Comintern and the National, Colonial and Racial Questions Workshop

Transnational Leftism: The Comintern and the National, Colonial and Racial Questions
There are three prevailing wisdoms about Communists and the Comintern and the National and
Racial Questions. The first is that the Comintern was a monolithic organization, in which members
were loyal to Moscow first and had no time for legitimate nationalist or anti-racist rhetoric outside
of that dictated from on high. The second is that if national self-determination or racial equality was
taken seriously, the Comintern or certain Communists exploited these positions opportunistically,
seeking to aid Soviet foreign policy. The third is that anti-imperialism and racial equality, legitimate
or not, were limited in their effectiveness as a result of the Comintern’s general focus towards
Europe and European issues. But as transnational studies of the Comintern, racial equality and the
national question have started to show, these prevailing views are not as convincing as they once
were. Communist Parties, while certainly answering to Moscow, were able to develop their own
positions and engage with ideas of nationalism, anti-imperialism and racial equality on their own
terms, to varying degrees, and often interacted with other parties, movements and ideas when doing
Organized by Oleksa Drachewych, Ian McKay and Maxime Dagenais, Transnational Leftism: The
Comintern and the National, Colonial and Racial Questions seeks to draw together scholars from Canada and around the world to reflect upon the potential of the transnational turn for re-imagining the history of Communists, the Comintern and questions of race, nation and imperialism. It will also
seek to unite the often disconnected histories of individual Communist Parties throughout the world
with those of Canada. We invite papers on all aspects of the Comintern on issues of race and
nationhood. How coherent, consistent, comprehensible and plainly communicated was the
‘Comintern Line’ on these questions? Were race and nation, within the Communist movement and
beyond it, conceptualized as being the same or distinct questions? Once in place, could the line with
respect to them be modified, either explicitly or implicitly, by activists? Could the Comintern
position be subjected to local amendment – and even wholesale revision? Furthermore, we
encourage papers that speak on the legacies and ideology of the Comintern and its significance in
shaping the anti-colonial and post-colonialist movements of resistance. Exploring the transnational
entanglements of World Communism, nationalism and anti-racism, in the years in which the
Comintern rose and fell as an influential global actor, this workshop ultimately aims to ask new
questions and incite fresh debates about the contested legacy of the Comintern in the twentieth
This workshop will be held September 21-22, 2017 at the L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History
at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The Wilson Institute will provide assistance
towards lodging and travel re-imbursement for accepted speakers. Proposals should include a brief
one-page C.V. and a 250-word abstract of the proposed paper, and are due by 31 March 2017. A
select number of papers will also be chosen for publication in an edited collection to be part of the
Canada in the World Series with McGill-Queen’s University Press. Submissions and all inquiries
should be directed to

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