A Fifth Revolution Around the Sun

By Bryan A. Banks and Cindy Ermus

In 2015, we wrote the “About” page for Age of Revolutions with the opening line: “We live in an age of revolutions.” We posited that the revolutionary era had not dissipated, but had instead multiplied, adopted new definitions, and had become ubiquitous in a variety of circles from academic enclaves to political and even commercial operations. What started as an effort to shift conversations about the history of revolutions, revolutionaries, and the idea of “revolution” itself from academic conferences to an online forum has turned into a five-year-old project that has published the work of scholars from around the world. (Check our year-to-year round ups here: year 1, year 2, year 3, and year 4.)

In some ways, this past year has been the most difficult at Age of Revolutions. The COVID-19 pandemic, the rapidly shifting academic landscape, continued racial injustices in the United States (where all of our editors are located), and a global political landscape that threatens to collapse long-held democratic principles—all have made dedicating our labor to this project straining at times, but as a team we persevered. Our editorial team made up of Bryan Banks, Jeffrey Burson, Katlyn Carter, Cindy Ermus, Erica Johnson Edwards, Javier Puente, Blake Smith, and Rob Taber have kept all of this going. We even added two managing editors (Justine Carré Miller and Zachary Stoltzfus) in recent months who are helping with several integral background projects to improve the AoR experience for all.

Yet through all this turmoil, the genius of our contributors has made this year far easier than previous years, because they inspired us to connect the historical Age of Revolutions to our current age of revolutions. We thought about protests of all kinds and examined their revolutionary iconography. Noah Shusterman took us on a tour of the protests in Hong Kong through its vandalism. Jeffrey Wasserstrom put these same protests in the context of the past five years and popular culture. Kerry Sinanan wrote a powerful piece connecting the history of slavery to the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murder by American police. We also encouraged people to reflect on the BLM protests by reading up on the history of slavery. For this, Sowande M. Mustakeem, Manuel Barcia, and Ana Lucia Araujo suggested key readings to pick up. And as COVID-19 saw countries around the world locking down, AoR authors explored the appropriation of the American revolutionary legacy to protest those same lockdowns. (Check out pieces by Andrew R. Detch and Robin Wright.)

Presidential politics has also been central on our site, more than we’d like. When Donald Trump was impeached, Malick W. Ghachem wrote about how eighteenth-century legal precedents made it happen. When the US government seized the COVID-19 pandemic to further its xenophobic program, and limit holders of J-1 and H1B visas from staying/returning to American Universities, we published a list of all the amazing works of scholarship that holders of those visas have produced. Recently, the Peruvian Congress overthrew Martín Vizcarra and installed Manuel Merino, the speaker of the Congress and main instigator of Vizcarra’s removal – who has since been forced from his position by the Peruvian people. In response, AoR published a letter expressing the concerns of scholars of Peru and Latin America about the situation.

Age of Revolutions has also published several incredible series. We published a big series, entitled “Faith in Revolution” that re-assessed the revolutionary age’s relationship with its supposed secular character. We commenced an ongoing series called “Rethinking the Revolutionary Canon,” designed at revisiting classical figures of revolutionary thought as well as introducing new thinkers with whom to engage. Currently, we are in the middle of a series on “Latin America’s Ongoing Revolutions” (how serendipitous given what’s happening in Peru), which our editor Javier Puente has masterfully orchestrated.

What’s next for Age of Revolutions? We always have interesting endeavors in the pipeline, and we are happy to announce our newest CFP(osts) here:

“Revolutionary Animals” CFP(osts)

Animals intersect the history of revolution at every angle—animals as food sources; animals as national representations; animals as agents. In an effort to bring animal studies into conversation with scholars of the revolutionary era, this series seeks pieces that place animals at the core of the analysis and narrative.

Proposals (100-200 words) should be submitted below or through our submissions portal by January 31, 2021. Posts of around 1,200 words (including endnotes and a brief bibliography) will then be due by March 15, 2021. If you have any questions concerning the series, do not hesitate to reach out through the form below. 

We remain committed to the work we do on this site. And we remain forever grateful to the work that scholars do to make this site useful to scholars world-wide, to the over 250 universities and colleges that assign pieces to their students, and to the public more generally.

P.S. We also added a “Blurbs” page to the site this year. Check out what these amazing scholars have to say about the work we do and will continue to do.

Thank you all for five years of readership, scholarship, and community. Here’s to many more.

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