The Transnational Life and Death of Peter Kropotkin, 1881-1921: Terrorism, the Anarchist Body, and the Russian Revolution

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Peter Kropotkin’s life was not only transnational because of his movements. Kropotkin existed as an imagined figure in the sphere of transatlantic anglophone print culture. This imagined Kropotkin was both representative of and contributed to British and American responses to the Russian Revolution in the period between 1881, when Kropotkin first became internationally infamous, and his death in 1921. This article argues that we can read in media representations of Kropotkin three main phases of revolutionary history. The first, the terrorist phase. The second, the ancient dignity of Russian culture. The third, decay, death, and despair. Kropotkin was one of the Revolution’s greatest celebrities, meaning that when the Civil War conflict emerged and Bolshevik power grew, it was through memories and representations of him that British and American audiences interpreted the Russian Revolution. So far as they saw it, Kropotkin was the Revolution, and had been for some time. As a result, Kropotkin’s death marked an important moment both for Russian anarchists, but also a symbol of the passing of an age of Russian history and culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-119
Number of pages37
JournalAnarchist Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I must thank Professor Charlotte Alston, whose advice and guidance on this research were invaluable. I would also like to thank Dr Laura O’Brien and Prof. dr. Wim Coudenys, alongside other members of the Study Group for the Russian Revolution, for their feedback on earlier versions of this work. Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to the two reviewers for their feedback on the article. Research for this article was carried out during a PhD funded by a Northumbria University studentship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Lawrence and Wishart. All rights reserved.

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