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Workshop: The German Revolution and the Radical Democratic Imaginary

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University of Exeter

Bateman Lecture Theatre

Exeter

EX4 4QD

United Kingdom

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In the wake of the First World War, workers and soldiers across Europe organised into democratic councils in order to challenge existing social hierarchies and strive towards self-government and workers’ control over production. During the 1918 German Revolution, a number of institutions and practices were proposed from within the German council movements to create a more participatory, democratic and worker-controlled society. Although there was much disagreement over specific proposals, council delegates were strongly in favour of deepening and extending existing forms of democracy beyond the limits of the bourgeois liberal state. Yet a hundred years on and political theory has drawn little from the discourses and practices of this significant historical era. Our aim with this workshop is to rejuvenate interest in political theorists and actors of the German Revolution and to place them in dialogue with conversations in radical democratic theory. We pose the question of how these political experiences should be theorised and what significance they hold for political practices today.

The workshop will be an opportunity for scholars from a variety of disciplines to form ongoing research networks based on shared areas of interest. Through the workshop, we will organise a number of research groups in which scholars will be asked to pre-circulate papers and provide feedback to another member of their group. The idea of the conference is to cultivate a space for in-depth discussion and collaborative research. We are open to perspectives engaging with the German Revolution from council communism, libertarian socialism, anarcho-syndicalism, radical democracy and that contribute to broader debates in political theory on questions of democracy, agency, representation and power. We welcome papers from both a theoretical and historical perspective and anticipate the conference to spark discussion and debate between political theorists and historians.

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University of Exeter

Bateman Lecture Theatre

Exeter

EX4 4QD

United Kingdom

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