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Anarchist Culture: Research Forum

The research forum of the final week offers an opportunity to carry out original research on Belle Epoque anarchism. By taking advantage of the extensive online resources now available via ‘Gallica’, you will have the chance to develop the skills of independent research, to enrich your assessed work for this module, and also to work collaboratively on your chosen topic.

Our discussion in the forum will focus on three key themes associated with anarchism: Revolution, Nature, and Utopia. Now that you have chosen your theme, you should make contact with the others in your research network to decide how you will approach the topic (see list below). As well as identifying relevant ideas and passages in the set texts from week to week, you will also need to explore your theme independently, for example through the sources available on Gallica (http://gallica.bnf.fr/). Under each heading below you will find useful texts (all on Gallica) with some suggested questions and search terms to get you started. Feel free to use your own initiative to search broadly across primary material from the period, and to structure your group presentation as you see fit.

In the final seminar, each research network will have 10 minutes to present their findings, questions, and reflections on their chosen theme, as an impetus to group discussion.


Research networks

Nature: Heather Smith, Sara Roebuck, and Katya Novakovic

Utopia: Harriet Bucklow, Jess Gould-Robbins, Nayab Chaudhry, and Lena Antonini

Revolution: Calum Brennan, Catherine White, and Ben Rogers


Revolution

What does revolution mean for anarchists? How do they think it should be achieved? Is violence inevitable? How does the revolutionary potential of anarchism shape art, literature, and workers’ movements in this period? Is revolution about individual or collective emancipation? What are the differences between anarchist, socialist, and communist understandings of revolution?

  • Pierre Kropotkine, L’Action anarchiste dans la révolution (Paris: Temps nouveaux, 1914)
  • Michel Bakounine, La Révolution sociale, ou la dictature militaire (Geneva, 1871)
  • Jehan Le Vagre, La Société au lendemain de la révolution (Paris: La Révolte, 1889)
  • Jean Grave, Réformes, Révolution (Paris, Stock, 1910)
  • Elisée Reclus, Evolution et révolution (Paris: La Révolte, 1891)
  • Elisée Reclus, L’Evolution, la révolution et l’idéal anarchique (Paris, 1914)

Nature

How do anarchists see the relationship between human nature and the animal world? Can the animal kingdom offer models for human society? How might human nature evolve? Are anarchists realistic or idealistic about the potential to transcend human nature? In what ways did anarchists in Belle Epoque Paris try to get 'back to nature'?

  • Pierre Kropotkine, Mémoires d’un révolutionnaire (Paris: Scala, 1898) (search for ‘nature humaine’)
  • Félix le Dantec, Traité de biologie (Paris, 1900) (search for ‘utopie anarchiste’ to find his reflections on the problems of taking the animal kingdom as a model for human society)
  • A. Naquet, Temps futurs: socialisme, anarchie (Paris: Stock, 1903) (search for ‘animal’)
  • Domela Nieuwehuis, Le Militarisme et l’attitude des anarchistes et sociales rébolutionnaires devant la guerre (Paris: Tenps nouveaux, 1901) (search for ‘animaux’)
  • Henry David Thoreau, Waldon ou la vie dans les bois (reprint, 2013)
  • There is a very useful section comparing the bourgeoisie to dying vegetation in Fernand Pelloutier, Histoire des Bourses du Travail, preface, p.19
  • Download this research network's quotations on Nature

Utopia

What models of anarchist utopia are offered by the anarchists of the Belle Epoque, in theory or in practice? Is the anarchist utopia urban or rural? What place does it hold for work and leisure? How does it shape ideas on community life and relationships between the sexes? How can anarchist utopia be achieved?

  • Elisée Reclus, L’Anarchie (Paris, Temps Nouveaux, 1896)
  • Jules Lermina, L’A.B.C. du Libertaire (Colonie communiste d’Aiglemont, Ardennes, 1906)
  • A. Naquet, Temps futurs: socialisme, anarchie (Paris, Stock, 1903)
  • Félix le Dantec, Traité de biologie (Paris, 1900) (search for ‘utopie anarchiste’ to find his reflections on the problems of taking the animal kingdom as a model for human society)
  • Elisée Reclus, L’Evolution, la révolution et l’idéal anarchique (Paris, 1914)
  • L’Humanité nouvelle. revue internationale: sciences, lettres et arts (Paris: Librairie de l’art social, 1898) (search for ‘idéal’)