Lisa Kirschenbaum

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20082009 Forum on Change

Lisa Kirschenbaum

Professor, History, West Chester University

Imagined Revolution: The Soviet Union, the Spanish Civil War, and the Making of International Communists

The project examines how women and men imagined and helped to constitute “international communism.” Much of the scholarship on international communism addresses its institutional history. By contrast, I am interested in its cultural and personal dimensions. I focus on connections between the Soviet Union and Spain, because the Spanish Civil War played a pivotal role in (re)defining and galvanizing international communism in the 1930s. Identification with the Soviet project and travel to the Soviet Union shaped Spanish communists’ identities and priorities. During the civil war, the apparent achievements of Soviet industrialization, coupled with Soviet aid to the Republic, magnified communism’s appeal and deflected attention from the Stalinist Terror. In the Soviet Union itself, heroic Spaniards became powerful emblems of communist revolution.