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The Revolution on the Volga



Professor of Modern History


Geoffrey Swain

Charlotte Alston

Michael C. Hickey

Boris Kolonitsky

Franziska Schedewie


While revolutionary narratives often focus on Petrograd as the seat of political power, and more broadly on urban and military arenas, this chapter explores the lived experience of revolution in the Volga region, around 1500 kilometres from Petrograd. The five Volga provinces studied here (Nizhegorod, Kazan, Samara, Saratov and Simbirsk) had an area of 400,000 square kilometres. This chapter uses two lenses to explore the revolutionary year in ways that transcend the traditional narratives of 1917. First, it looks at the experience and impact of population churn on the region in 1917. Although the Volga region was far from the frontlines of the First World War, that conflict shaped almost every aspect of life, not least by its role in forcing unprecedented population mobility. Second, it will make a particular study of the dynamics of revolution in rural areas, where more than 90% of the region’s population lived. This study will emphasise the diversity of experience in the countryside, and it will explore the ways in which local decisions about land use and grain production impacted national politics. By focusing on land and food use, we can see the ways in which the revolution was defined and experience in the Volga countryside, and this focus moves us away from emphases on political centres and high party politics. By focusing on population mobility, our gaze is drawn towards the impact of the First World War on revolutionary narratives and everyday life.


BADCOCK, S. (2023). The Revolution on the Volga. In G. Swain, C. Alston, M. C. Hickey, B. Kolonitsky, & F. Schedewie (Eds.), The Bloomsbury Handbook of the Russian Revolution. Bloomsbury Publishing

Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 15, 2022
Publication Date Jan 12, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2023
Book Title The Bloomsbury Handbook of the Russian Revolution
Chapter Number 11
ISBN 9781350243132
Keywords Russian history
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