CfP: Travels: A transnational communist practice

Call for papers, deadline 30 June 2023


Special issue of Twentieth Century Communism: A Journal of International History

Well before the Comintern’s founding in 1919, travel had become an essential practice of Marxist revolutionaries who imagined a new egalitarian society that extended beyond national boundaries. Lenin’s train journey from Zurich to Petrograd in 1917 would become a monumental moment in the collective communist memory, inseparable from the successful outcome of the October Revolution.
The founding of the Comintern marked a new era in the internationalization of the Bolsheviks’ political views and practices, with its activists embarking on a nomadic existence as they travelled across the globe. At the same time, the new Soviet state urged communists and fellow travelers from all over the world to visit its territory, often within the framework of Soviet cultural diplomacy. During the interwar period, communist travels could also be imposed, as in the case of political exile. Travels also expressed revolutionary and/or anti-fascist solidarity as in the case of the Spanish Civil War.
After the end of the Second World War, communist travels took different forms and meanings in the context of a new world divided between the communist East and the capitalist West. In the second half of the twentieth century, the territories of the so-called Third World also attracted communists and leftists from different parts of the world.
The study of travels can be especially fruitful as it shines a light on both the circulation of individuals and ideas, as well as the development of political cultures. While there is a rich literature on many transnational aspects of 20th-century communism, there is a dearth of research that focuses on how travels became, at the same time, an experience, a political practice, and a tool of propaganda. This special issue aims at bringing together papers that are specifically engaged with the theme of communist travels undertaken by individuals and/or groups.

Questions of interest include:
- What structural features of travels and traveling played a role in the evolution of Communist activists, groups, and parties? To what extent did travels contribute to the shaping of communist identities?
- How did travels challenge official party policies and destabilize ideological certainties? To what extent did travels contribute to scissions and splits?
- How did Communist leaders and parties use travels as a political means and propaganda tool in different contexts?

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to: by 30 June 2023.

Contact Info:
Special issue editor: Anastasia Koukouna, the University of Manchester
Contact Email: