During the closing months of the First World War, all across the former Romanov, Hohenzollern, Ottoman, and Habsburg Empires, new ideas about legitimate political power flourished. Most political entrepreneurs drew rhetorical inspiration from either Wilson or Lenin: the slogans “national self-determination” and “all power to the Soviets” arguably characterize the era. A central institution of the postwar environment was the council, either a "national council" or a council of workers, peasants, and/or soldiers. Most were short-lived, but a few won recognition as a legitimate government. Councils responded to local political constituencies, but also appealed to the great powers, which could potentially confer legitimacy or even provide military or material assistance.
We seek papers that examine councils in both their local and international contexts. What were their political goals? What ideologies did they espouse? How much support did they enjoy? What tactics strategies did they adopt: did they e.g. organize referenda, recruit armies, send representatives to Paris or Moscow, redistribute property, or simply appeal for recognition and hope for the best? How did the Great Powers react to the councils? What impact did they have on the postwar era?
We are particularly interested in finding papers that discuss "workers' and soldiers' councils," since our initial list of participants all discuss national councils (in Lusatia, Vorarlberg, Transylvania).
Keynote speaker: Dr. Martin D. Brown (Richmond, the American International University in London) will speak about: "Perfidious Albion" and the making of Central Europe:
British Foreign Policy and East-central European Borders.
The conference takes place in Wellington, New Zealand on the weekend of 11-12 August. There is no registration fee; the event is free and open to the public. Interested participants should send a one-paragraph abstract. We may have limited funding to pay for participants' accomodation, but we will not be able to pay for plane tickets from Europe or North America. Publication plans will be discussed at the conference.
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