CfP: One century after the Bolshevik Revolution. Towards a “French History” of Soviet Heritage? 1917-2017

Call for papers, deadline 15 March 2017

In 2004, an archaeological survey was organized in Baillet-en-France (France, Val-d’Oise) under the supervision of the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP). As a result, archaeological remains of Soviet artefacts were discovered, piled into an icehouse. Soon, François Gentili (INRAP) identified the origin of this unexpected discovery. The broken elements of these monumental sculptures were originally parts of the propylaea of the Soviet Pavilion at the Exposition des Arts et des Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (Paris, 1937), the pedestal building which once supported the gigantic sculptures of the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (V.Mukhina).

Unexpected as it was, this Soviet thaw in the Val d’Oise heralded under « ectopic circumstances » a new approach towards « Soviet heritage ». These remains of « Soviet civilization » were excavated and approached methodically as material remains of XXth century ideologies and conflicts. As it was, the discovery shed also some interesting light on the French Labor (communist) movement (CGT and CGT-métallurgie).

A « French History » of Soviet Heritage should at first identify several architectural objects and artefacts such as the building of the Soviet Embassy, the old movie theater Cosmos (Rue de Rennes), the Cité Gagarine (Ivry sur Seine), the Soviet Cemetery at Noyers-Saint Martins, the Lenin Museums in Paris or in Longjumeau or the iconic building of the headquarters (Arch : Oscar Niemeyer) of the French Communist party place du Colonel Fabien. The kolletsija of nonofficial Soviet contemporary art donated by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation to the Centre Pompidou but also private collections of Soviet artistic productions and artefacts are some other testimonies of the very existence of a French « Soviet heritage ».

Beyond the celebration of the Russian Revolution Centenary, this international conference to be held in Paris, will bring together researchers and archaeologists, curators and witnesses, photographers and artists involved in some way in the process of turning these Soviet remains into a very singular « Heritage ».

This call for contributions invites proposals from all disciplines on topics relevant to the conference. Proposals related to the following topics are most welcome.

1-Soviet monuments in French history

  • Soviet monuments and architectures : Communist Party, Labor Movement, Trade Unions (building yards, exhibition pavilions , artistic influences)
  • Soviet Pavilions in Paris international exhibitions : from 1925 to 1937. Topography and archaeological Remains.
  • Soviet monuments in France : social history of Baillet-en-France (Leisure Park of the CGT métallos in 1937, became a Soviet refugee camp in 1944).

2-Monuments and contemporary archaeology

  • XXth century archaeology : conflicts, monuments, ideologies.
  • Artistics productions, materials, innovation.
  • Archaeology of ephemeral monuments : Heritage-making process, dismantling, recycling, dispersion
  • From excavation to reconstruction of Soviet monuments : methods and political issues.

3-« Soviet heritage » : topography and epistemology

  • Soviet notion of Heritage
  • Soviet monuments and memory issues in a global perspective
  • Soviet Heritage in Ile-de-France Region : topography, epistemology, inventory.

Submission guidelines

Proposals in English, Russian or French (approximate 300 words) with a short CV should be sent to : by March 15th 2017.