Giovanna Cigliano

One hundred years after the Russian revolution: The (non-)topicality and (non-)evitability of 1917

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Keywords: Russian Revolution; Historiography; Public Use of History; 1917 Centennial.

This essay focuses on the debate concerning the revolutionary year 1917 that has developed in connection with its centennial. Recognition of the epoch-making, global impact exerted by the Russian revolution in twentieth-century history has been unanimous. While the question concerning the topicality or non-topicality of the Revolution has been particularly under discussion in Western countries, in Putin's Russia, within the context of a strong commitment by the public authorities to foster a patriotic consciousness through the public use of the past, the anniversary has underscored the difficulty of constructing a shared historical memory around such a still divisive watershed in national history. The concluding paragraph addresses the theme of the historical necessity or contingency of the actual course of events in the two main phases of the revolutionary process - the February Revolution and the October Revolution - while making reference to recent interpretative trends in Russian and Anglo-American historiography.

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