The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

April 1 The Bolshevik Confrontation with Antisemitism in the Russian Revolution, 1917-1919

12:30 p.m., Kovno Room

Presentation by Dr. Brendan McGeever

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was the high point of class struggle in the twentieth century. In the very moment of revolution, however, the Bolsheviks were almost immediately forced to come face-to-face with mass outbreaks of antisemitic violence in the shape of pogroms, which spread across the vast regions of the Western and South-Western borderlands. The pogroms posed fundamental questions of Marxist theory and practice, particularly since they revealed the nature and extent of working class and peasant attachments to antisemitic representations of Jewishness. Based on extensive fieldwork in Russian and Ukrainian archives, this paper has two aims: first, it offers a broad analysis of the nature of the articulation between antisemitism and the revolutionary process, focusing in particular on the phenomenon of Red Army pogroms; and second, it offers an in-depth analysis of Bolshevik attempts to arrest these articulations. Contrary to existing understandings, the paper reveals that the key agent in the Soviet response to antisemitism was not the Bolshevik party leadership, as is often assumed, but a small grouping of non-Bolshevik Jewish socialists who coalesced around the peripheral apparatuses of the Soviet state.
Brendan McGeever holds a PhD from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He recently completed his dissertation on the Bolshevik response to antisemitism during the Russian Revolution.

This event intended for an academic audience; space is limited.
Please RSVP to Chris Barthel at