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Bert Altena

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Bert Altena has published widely about the history of socialist movements, especially anarchist movements. Until September 2014 he taught at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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Reassessing the Transnational Turn: Scales of Analysis in Anarchist and Syndicalist Studies
Editors: Constance Bantman and Bert Altena
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-391-6
Published: 07/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 9x6
Page count: 256 pages
Subjects: Politics-Anarchism

This edited volume reassesses the ongoing transnational turn in anarchist and syndicalist studies, a field where the interest in cross-border connections has generated much innovative literature in the last decade. It presents and extends up-to-date research into several dynamic historiographic fields, and especially the history of the anarchist and syndicalist movements and the notions of transnational militancy and informal political networks.

Whilst restating the relevance of transnational approaches, especially in connection with the concepts of personal networks and mediators, the book underlines the importance of other scales of analysis in capturing the complexities of anarchist militancy, due to both their centrality as a theme of reflection for militants, and their role as a level of organization. Especially crucial is the national level, which is often overlooked due to the internationalism which was so central to anarchist ideology.

In the context of resurgent populist nationalism across the global North, especially Europe, as well as parts of the Global South, Reassessing the Transnational Turn is a timely and welcome exploration focusing on the high point of the historical anarchist movement, approximately between the 1870s and 1939. In it, some of the more problematic, politically ambiguous, and underexplored relationships between anarchist movements and (trans)nationalism are interrogated by a range of historians and political scholars.

Contributors include Davide Turcato, Ruth Kinna, Isabelle Felici, Kenyon Zimmer, Pietro Di Paola, Raymond Craib, Nino Kühnis, and Martin Baxmeyer.


“A compelling series of interventions. They speak not only to their direct disciplinary peers but also to broader currents and concerns across the social sciences. Anarchists, and Left academia more generally, tend to occupy a comfortable space in which it is easy to feel like our intellectual development and ideas are somehow immune from the gritty realities of social life and the various dimensions of nationalism, parochialism, and localism that run through it. On the contrary, Reassessing the Transnational Turn asks us to delve deeply and honestly into the canon and mythology of radicals past and reconsider their lived ambiguities and complexities, including the darker sides which we might prefer to ignore.”
—Anthony Ince, Antipode

“In practice the relation between anarchism and national movements is not as clear as anarchist theory would have it. Therefore, the contributions to this book, edited by Constance Bantman and Bert Altena, are not just important from an academic and historical point of view. This is an inspiring book, with many incentives for an as yet unwritten transnational history of German anarchism.”
—Dieter Nelles, historian of German anarchism and syndicalism

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