A First Assessment of the EUROSOC Project/April 2017 (Shanghai, April 2017)

A First Assessment of the EUROSOC Project/April 2017 (Shanghai,  Academy of Social Sciences CASS – Institut of Chinese Marxism, 28 April 2017)

 Second to the left : Professor Fang Songhua (director of Institut of Marxism), then Jean-Numa Ducange, Serge Wolikow, Xu Juezai (director of the journal Yearbook of World Socialism), Chen Xianqing, Ma Lyia. 

Launched in February 2016, the EUROSOC project set several objectives, the first of which was to establish a network of researchers on the history of socialisms for the period 1870-1914, without excluding an interest for a broader chronology. From its early stages, the project has developed links with diverse university structures and foundations  sharing a strong interest for this object. In addition to the colleagues from the University of Rouen and Le Havre, colleagues from foreign universities (Denmark, Italy, Germany, and China predominately) and from other French universities (Dijon, Strasbourg, EHESS[1], Paris 1 among others) participated in several meetings and seminar sessions. The Jean-Jaurès and Gabriel-Péri Foundations supported several initiatives. The Consortium Mondes Contemporains (Consortium “Archives of the contemporary worlds”) also intensively supported the project, particularly for the document digitization projects; we shall return to this point later. It is worth noting that the project was enhanced within the framework of the seminar for Master students called “French revolution, Revolutions of the 19th-21th centuries” coorganized by Michel Biard and myself at the University of Rouen and where, for example, Emmanuel Jousse – the author of a noteworthy thesis on the history of reformist socialism in France – took part in it. The seminar also hosted a full-day session dedicated to historian Georges Haupt and his archives.

The EUROSOC notebook

Here, I shall already underline several concrete implementations. First, the EUROSOC online notebook has been regularly supplied with high-quality posts, published almost every week and covering the various aspects of the project : bibliography, historiography, information content (publications of books on the topic), brief reports of speeches coming from study days, reports of research studies defences (master, thesis), etc. Most of the posts are in French but a significant number of them were translated in English for the sake of internationalisation. The general coordination of this notebook, which will soon lead to the creation of a denser and stronger website, was entrusted to Frank-Olivier Chauvin, a doctoral student since September 1st 2016 under Michel Biard’s and my supervision.

Master’s degrees and doctorates

Several students were able to write their Master’s thesis in relation to this project (among the most active ones were Alexandre Riou on the history of Czech socialism and Frank-Olivier Chauvin on the revolutionary tradition in the Ottoman Empire). Other ongoing and upcoming Master’s theses, as well as several theses projects under development, are within the project’s perspective. Doctoral students and doctors are now already part of the EUROSOC project. This is evidenced, for example, by the publication of several posts by Andrea Benedetti, a doctoral student at the university of Strasbourg, or Elisa Marcobelli, doctor of the EHESS. Lastly, it should be noted that Pierre Alayrac took part in our activities – Pierre Alayrac is the 2016 Jean-Jaurès Foundation award recipient and the author of a Master’s thesis on the 1896 London Congress which he defended at the École Normale Supérieure under Blaise Wilfert-Portal’s and my supervision.

Digitization

In terms of document digitization, two archival fonds were treated thanks to the EUROSOC funds. The first one is a part of the Pierre Renaudel fonds (kept at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation) which contains unpublished archives on the establishment of socialism in Normandy for the period 1899-1905, particularly on the history of the French Socialist Party. The richness of this fonds has already been emphasized and is currently being exploited by Florent Godguin, history and geography teacher and collaborator of the EUROSOC project. This exploitation will soon lead to a university Master’s thesis.

The other digitized fonds corresponds to the international vocation of EUROSOC: the fonds of Romanian historian Georges Haupt. It contains numerous original documents from the Socialist International (The Second International before 1914) and notably a part of the correspondence of the International Socialist Bureau that Haupt had recovered from Camille Huysmans. Its scientific promotion is ongoing, notably thanks to Lucie Guesnier, doctor from the University of Paris 1 and author of a noteworthy thesis on the history of Romanian socialism before the First World War.

Translation

On this matter, regarding the successful cooperation, I wish to underline the active participation of our colleagues from the Institute of Marxism of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. A letter written by Hardling and addressed to Huysmans about the early developments of socialism in China – a letter in English in the Haupt fonds – was translated in Chinese and published in the Yearbook of socialism (Shanghai) in 2016, as part of the partnership established by EUROSOC. This letter was partially quoted by Haupt himself – a letter he thus possessed – in La Deuxième Internationale et l’Orient (The Second International and the East, cowritten with Madeleine Rebérioux in 1967) but had remained in its entirety completely unpublished. Ma Lyia, a colleague of the Academy, has published in the journal Austriaca (edited by Rouen Press University) a very interesting article about the reception of Otto Bauer’s theory in China.

The acquisition of works

At the bibliographical level, the fonds led to the acquisition of rare journals and books related to the history of socialism. Examples include several volumes of the collection “Historical materialism” published by Brill or the last copies of the journal Beiträge Zur Marx-Engels Forschung. It is a journal devoted to Marx and the marxisms and which contains important historical input on the history of the archival centers related to the socialist movement.

2017-1018

In anticipation, the EUROSOC project intends to continue its activities in the same fields by diversifying the places of its seminar sessions and holding them in several sites. The document digitization will continue in order to further enhance regional and international resources that are still hard to access for researchers. On this matter, the cooperation between the archival centers will have to be strengthened. At the end of the project, EUROSOC will organize in September-October 2018 a symposium which should emphasize the different levels of integration of the project; various historians from several countries will for instance be invited. Publications are also under study, along with the possibilities to perpetuate the project.

[1] The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (French: École des hautes études en sciences sociales).


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