Revolutionary Justice versus Revolutionary Violence? Revolutionary Tribunals and the Role of Law during Russia's Civil War, 1917-22

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Thursday 11 October
Room 108, Medecroft, Medecroft Quarter, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 4NR

This talk is part of the Modern History Research Centre series and will be delivered by Dr Matthew Rendle.

Russia's civil war was a transitional period as the Bolsheviks sought to create new political, social, economic and cultural structures whilst simultaneously holding on to power. The role of law in this process has usually been marginalised in favour of the more obvious role played by violence with the revival of the secret police and the instigation of 'red' terror. Yet the Bolsheviks invested vast amounts of scarce resources into building a legal system that dealt with hundreds of thousands of 'political' cases.

This talk explores the role of revolutionary justice during this period, arguing that whilst there were few neat distinctions between revolutionary justice and violence in some respects, courts provided a more nuanced and flexible means of promoting the state's objectives. This is not 'transitional justice' in the usual sense of coming to terms with a problematic past, but rather utilising justice to help transition to a new type of state and society.

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