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A Global Party. The French Communist Party in a Transnational Perspective (1917-1991)

Un parti global. Le Parti communiste français dans une perspective transnationale (1917-1991)

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Published on Tuesday, September 08, 2015


This international conference is organized within the frame of the ANR program, PAPRIK@2F (Internet Portal: Political Archives Research Indexation Komintern and French Archives), a program implemented by the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and Centre Georges Chevrier in partnership with the National Archives. It aims to consider the French Communist Party from a global point of view, in the light of an internationalized, renewed historiography.



This international conference is organized by the ANR PAPRIK@2F Research project (Agence nationale de la Recherche: Portail Archives Politiques Recherches Indexation Komintern et Fonds Français), supported by the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and the Centre Georges Chevrier of the university of Burgundy, in partnership with the Archives Nationales (Paris). It aims to consider the French Communist Party from a global point of view, in the light of a renewed and internationalized historiography.

Launched in April 2013, the PARPIK@2F research project aims to create an on-line free access to French Comintern archives, as well as to State surveillance archives, with a unique and practical inventory and research tool. From its inception onwards, this project has considered the history of the FCP in a comparative and connected way, especially in its two years long seminar. Our symposium will therefore conclude three years of intense technical and scientific work in this sense.

Communist studies have undergone profound changes during the last two decades. The reference to the “short 20th Century”, which played a major role in France, especially in “totalitarian” interpretations, is now challenged by a renewed “world history”. However violent it may have been, this “short 20th Century” is integrated into long term approaches which put the stress on wider processes such as State modernization, European imperialism and nascent globalization at the end of the 19th Century[1].

A new historiography (Anglo-Saxon mostly) has been dedicated to the study of the Soviet “civilization”. Despite its diversity, it shares the ambition of placing the communist phenomenon in a larger “zone of modernity”[2], where new forms of mass government, including in their Soviet version, have been set up. As a radical experience of social engineering in a closed society and economy, the Bolshevik experience is paradoxically “opened” to selective influences and cultural-technical circulations. However, the URSS is also a major hub from which are transferred new political, cultural and bureaucratic practices, through the action of specific institutions and instruments, such as the Comintern and the Cominform or the Soviet cultural diplomacy apparatus.

In the light of these new historiographical conditions – not to mention the so-called “révolution des archives” -, we think that the time has come to pay attention to the FCP as a transnational object. The directions we propose are three-fold.

First of all, the FCP embodies a new political offer, which is the combined result of French labor “indigenous” inheritances and imported Bolshevik practices and principles. As a “national section” of the Moscow-centered communist world, the FCP took part in a wider “communist history” that is transnational in itself. Our symposium therefore intends to weigh its role inside the international communist movement throughout the 20th Century – that is, before and during the Cold War, inside the Comintern, the Cominform and during its “multilateral” aftermath.

Besides, our symposium will particularly favor comparative and transnational history papers, in order to confront new archival evidence with old paradigms, such as the center/periphery issue or the “dependency” syndrome in French historiography.

We will lastly consider the FCP as a specific agent of politicization and mobilization of the masses – whatever the form, including military -, through the shaping/inclusion of multiple actors and social groups within the colonial and political French order. The FCP will thus be viewed as a “hub” in itself within the international communist movement, with its own interests and its specific historical path.


The conference aims to bring the largest number of French and foreign specialists together into eleven different workshops.

1. Emissaries, instructors, ambassadors: the “linking” between the FCP and the international communist apparatus

This workshop will deal with French and foreign emissaries and intermediaries that “link” the FCP to the Soviet-based international apparatus at the head of the western communist world. This includes ambassadors and diplomatic personal who played a role in the history of the FCP. Papers can focus on prosopographical and socio-biographical approaches and individual/collective biographies of these militants “between two worlds”.

2. Tourism, travels, delegations within the communist world

International mobility and migrations are a major dimension of the history of global communism. Papers in this workshop can therefore range from the study of French official delegations to the USSR and other “popular democracies” to “militant tourism” during the Cold War. French access to Soviet and “socialist” reality is a major issue of this workshop.

3. Images, symbols, representations

How did symbols define French communist identity in France? How have such symbols circulated within the communist world? How have they been elaborated/copied/adopted/rejected? This workshop will consider the history of French communist visual identity in a connected way, either in comparison to other visual cultures or through the transnational elaboration of propaganda technics and campaigns.

4. The FCP and the colonial/imperial order

From the Riff war (1925) to Algerian war (1954-1962), the FCP has established an equivocal relationship with French colonialism. It participated in training of nationalist and anticolonial activists from the Empire, set up international campaigns and exhibitions against imperialist “predation”, sabotaged military mobilization against Indochina, etc. But its attitude during the Algerian War has raised many questions and is still an open field of investigation. This panel will therefore focus on the role of the FCP within the French imperial order.

5. Exile, migrants and diasporas

The FCP has established strong links with various national minorities in France (Italians, Poles, Armenians…). Its “groupes de langues”, as well as the MOE/MOI, have played a significant role in the political organization of this “immigrant workforce”. Papers can also deal with anticommunist activism of foreign/migrant networks on the French soil (such as White Russians antibolshevism, e.g.), or with the complicated relationship between the FCP and otherness.

6. Communist subjectivity, schools, cadres, biographies

Schooling is a major dimension of communist political activity, from international to local levels. Papers can range from studies of communist curriculums and pedagogy, to “pupils”’ socio-biography and political/social destiny. They can also focus on the formation of communist subjectivity and technics of the self. Gender approaches are particularly welcomed here.

7. Mass organizations and campaigns (antifascism, pacifism, international solidarity)

So-called “mass” organizations are an important part of the communist world. Here we intend to study the French interface of these organizations, in all their aspects (membership, propaganda, implantation…).

8. Ideological and cultural transnational exchanges (translation, science, arts)

Transnational transfers are a key feature to the historiographical renewal in communist studies. This workshop will deal with such exchanges in all their aspects: theoretical and ideological (from “lyssenkisme” to the analysis of State capitalism), aesthetical, cultural and political (including Stalin’s cult), etc. It will also pay thorough attention to translators and communist personal “between two worlds”. Papers about the importation/exportation of communist official or clandestine literature from/to France are also welcome here.

9. Archives and historiography: the production of communist archives and archives on communism

The ANR PAPRIK@2F Research project has put the stress on the production of communist archives and archives on communism. Papers dealing with gathering, circulation, dispersal/destruction or conservation processes of archives on/from French communism belong to this workshop. Studies in communist studies are also particularly welcomed here.

10. Purges, repression, resistance to repression

This workshop deals with the history of dissidences and purges into/around the FCP in a connected perspective. What is the role of the FCP in Comintern purges and Soviet trials between the 1930s and the 1950s? Papers can also deal with inquisitorial practices and control of communist cadres. Finally, this workshop will also pay particular attention to clandestine periods, from the end of the 1920s to the German occupation and beyond, through comparison within the communist movement in Europe, but also between different movements of resistance in France.

11. Trade unionism, labor world(s), spatial and social dynamics

This last workshop explores the relationships between the FCP and various social groups (workers, employees, physicians, intellectuals, etc.) from a transnational and connected perspective. Topics such as French trade unionism’s specificity, the Soviet perception of French socio-economic environment or comparative integration of western communist parties into national political systems to which they belong will be dealt with.

[1] S. Berger, Notre première mondialisation. Leçons d’un échec oublié, Paris, Seuil, 2003.

[2] Y. Cohen, « Circulatory Localities. The Example of Stalinism in the 1930s », Kritika : Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, hiver 2010, vol. 11, n°1, p. 11-45.


25-27 mai 2016, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Dijon.

Submission guidelines

The proposals shouldn’t exceed 500 words.

It must include a title, the name of the author, the institutional affiliation and the five principal publications of the author.

The papers are to be submitted in .pdf format on the site of the conference.

Conference languages: English, French

Deadline: January 8th, 2016.

Scientific committee

  • Bernhard Bayerlein historien, Institut des Mouvements Sociaux, Université de Bochum
  • Sophie Cœuré, professeur à l’université Paris-VII
  • Romain Ducoulombier, post-doctorant Université de Bourgogne/ANR Paprik@2F
  • Sabine Dullin, professeur à l’IEP de Paris
  • Kevin Morgan, professeur à l’université de Manchester
  • Silvio Pons, professeur à l’université Tor Vergata de Rome
  • Marion Veyssière, Conservateur du patrimoine, Responsable du département de la Justice et de l'Intérieur, Direction des fonds, Archives nationales.
  • Jean Vigreux, professeur à l’université de Bourgogne
  • Serge Wolikow, professeur émérite d’histoire à l'université de Bourgogne


  • Maison des Sciences de l'Homme - 6 Esplanade Erasme
    Dijon, France (21)


  • Friday, January 08, 2016


  • parti communiste français, comintern


  • Jean Vigreux
    courriel : jean [dot] vigreux [at] u-bourgogne [dot] fr
  • Aurelia Vasile
    courriel : aurelia [dot] vasile [at] uca [dot] fr

Information source

  • Aurelia Vasile
    courriel : aurelia [dot] vasile [at] uca [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« A Global Party. The French Communist Party in a Transnational Perspective (1917-1991) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, September 08, 2015, https://doi.org/10.58079/t7l

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