Plenary Roundtables


I. Socialism and global history

II. Revolution and religion


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I. Socialism and global history

Date / Time: Friday, 1 September 2017, 6:30 pm

Venue: Corvinus University, Lecture Room 3

The roundtable will discuss the historical typologies of socialisms (postcapitalisms), how globally socialisms performed from a global and comparative perspective (among other fields: in gender and labor relations, property relations, social well-being). The panel will also discuss how the inner mechanisms of these types of postcapitalisms have been shaped and influenced by global capitalism, and how it influenced their historical trajectories. The panelists will also debate whether and how these formations were integrated into various dependencies. The discussion will also focus on how the collapse of socialisms in Europe can be interpreted after almost 30 years and how the development of e.g. the history China, Vietnam, Cuba can be interpreted afterwards from a global point of view.

Chair: Attila Melegh, Corvinus University / Demographic Research Institute Budapest



Raquel Varela, Lisbon New University / International Institute of Social History Amsterdam

Marcel van der Linden, International Institute for Social History Amsterdam

József Böröcz, Rutgers University

Adrian Grama, Central European University

Steffi Marung, Leipzig University

Acknowledgement: This roundtable is supported by Camões - Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua.

II. Revolution and religion

Date / Time: Saturday, 2 September 2017, 5:30 p.m. 

Venue: Central European University, Auditorium A

Revolutions and other major historical transformations have often been associated with the emergence or hegemony of new religions or major religious movements or transformations; the French Revolution generated a religion of reason, and some have seen in revolutionary ideologies secularised forms of religion. This panel seeks to address aspects of revolution and religion at a time of significant developments worldwide that signal the end of exactly a century associated with the consequences of the revolution of 1917.  The panel will make reference to general issues arising from conceptual vocabularies of revolution and rupture in a broader comparative perspective, bringing to the discussion global as well as European considerations into which notions of revolutions had been anchored hitherto. It will also address specific historical occurrences, considered in terms of both short and long duration. The panel participants will propose statements from the perspectives of historical sociology, social history, the history of ideologies, and the history of religions.


Chair: Nadia Al-Bagdadi, Central European University



Marnia Lazreg, Hunter College: The spirit of the French Revolution:  Religion and colonial reason

In light of Michel Foucault's analysis of the French Revolution as a "political spirituality movement," this presentation examines religion-based legal policies formulated by the colonial government in XIX-Xth century Algeria that targeted the native population. Special attention is given to the rational construction of political bias (as expressed in the Code de l'indigénat, nationality laws, and education practices) and the management of its contradictions.

Said A. Arjomand, State University of New York Stony Brook: Distinctiveness of the pattern of revolutions in Islamic history

The age of revolution in the Islamicate civilization predates that in Western history by a millennium, extending from the Hashemite, better known as the ʿAbbasid, revolution in 750 CE through the Fatimid revolution in 909 to the Berber revolution of Mahdi Ibn Tumart in the second quarter of the twelfth century. The distinctiveness of these cases in world history will be discussed along two dimensions: structurally as long drawn-out revolutions from the periphery, and culturally/ideologically as variations on a single religious, millennial theme.

Aziz al-Azmeh, Central European University: Revolution and religion from Protestant Reformation to contemporary Islam

This contribution will reflect on how one might describe the revolutionary effects of the Protestant Reformation, reflect on the notion of passive revolution to make a case for comparison with contemporary Islamist activism, and broach the common comparison between revolutionary ideology and eschatology by addressing their generic differences.

Bjorn Wittrock, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study Uppsala: Religions, revolutions and modernity: Cultural crystallizations in Europe and China

Social sciences are premised on a self-conception as discourses highlighting the implications of revolutionary upheavals. Yet they have exhibited profound difficulties in explicating such upheavals in ways that are not ad hoc. This situation has to do with the specific conceptual and global nexus out of which they emerged.  I shall explore what a rethinking of this nexus might entail in terms of an understanding of revolution and religion in two transformative periods in global history, namely the tenth to thirteenth centuries and the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In this re-examination I shall focus on developments in Europe and in China.