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School of History

Dr Andy Willimott


Senior Lecturer in Modern Russian History



I am a historian of modern Russia and the Soviet Union, with a particular interest in the formation and popular experience of revolution, radical discourse, and utopian models. My book 'Living the Revolution: Urban Communes & Soviet Socialism, 1917-1932' (Oxford University Press)—recipient of the Alexander Nove Book Prize and Honorable Mention W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize—tells the story of fiery-eyed, bed-headed youths determined to throw their lot in with the Bolsheviks after October 1917. Challenging established readings of the Bolshevik project, 'Living the Revolution' shows that Soviet ideology could both frame and fire the imagination. Reviewers called it ‘Essential’, ‘original and engaging,’ ‘Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and bursting with narrative appeal.’

In addition, I co-edited (with Matthias Neumann) 'Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide' (Routledge), offering a pioneering examination of how Russian tradition and pan-European socialist ideas came together to forge the Soviet experience 'across 1917'. Bridging historiographical divisions that have come to stress ‘change’ or ‘continuity’ when assessing Russian-Soviet political culture, this book seeks to help reshape the way we study 1917 and the resultant Soviet project. Among other things, this book examines the social and cultural frameworks that helped determine Soviet perceptions of social duty, justice, and governance.

I have also published, and continue to publish, on the Soviet urban environment, community-based blueprints for socialism, radical models of domesticity, the concept of ‘socialist civil society,’ as well as revolutionary experience and memory. My research has been funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust. And, in 2017, I was awarded a British Academy Rising Star Award and elected to Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

My research has been funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust. In 2017, I was awarded a British Academy Rising Star Award and elected to Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

I have served as Postgraduates Representative on the National Committee of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES). In this capacity, I organised and co-organised a number of conferences and workshops designed to facilitate further postgraduate research into Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia. This culminated in the production of the co-authored guide 'Using Archives and Libraries in the Former Soviet Union' (BASEES).

I joined QMUL, in 2019, as a Strategic Lecturer and Fellow of the Institute for the Humanities & Social Sciences. Previously, I taught at the University of Reading, UCL School of Slavonic & East European History, and the University of East Anglia.


Research Interests:

Research interests:

The Russian Revolution in global context

Community-based blueprints for socialism

Modern utopia

Popular / lived experience of revolution

Soviet everyday life

Socialist urban environment


Research Projects Funding: 

MERL / Heritage & Community Research Residency.

Project: Russian Utopia, 2018 British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award.

Project: 'Centenary,' 2017-2018 Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Leverhulme Trust.

Project: 'Unfinished Revolution,' 2012-2015 Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Studentship, 'Activist Communes,' 2008-2011.



Living the Revolution: Urban Communes and Soviet Socialism, 1917-1932 (Oxford University Press, hardback 2017, paperback 2019). ISBN: 9780198725824

Edited Books:

Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide, co-ed. with M. Neumann, (Routledge, 2018). ISBN: 9781138945623

Using Archives and Libraries in the Former Soviet Union, co-ed with Samantha Sherry and Jonathan Waterlow, (BASEES).


‘“How do you live?”: Experiments in Revolutionary Living after 1917,” Journal of Architecture, vol. 22, issue 3 (June, 2017): 437-457

‘“The Russian Revolution: People of the Future,” History Today, vol. 67, issue 10 (October, 2017): 24-35

‘“Perestroika of Life,” The Architectural Review, issue 1445 (2017): 24-30

“The Kommuna Impulse: Collective Mechanisms and Commune-ists in the Early Soviet State,” Revolutionary Russia vol. 24, no.1 (June, 2011): 59-78.


“Glasnost on the Streets,” Glasnost: Openness & Idealism: Soviet Posters, 1985-1991(Forthcoming)

“Revolutionary Participation, Youthful Civic-Mindedness,” in James Harris, Peter Whitewood and Lara Douds, (eds.) The Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution: Illiberal Liberation, 1917-1941 (Bloomsbury, 2020).

“‘Read all about it!’: Soviet Press and Periodicals,” in Routledge Companion to Sources in Russian History ed. George Gilbert. (Routledge, 2020).

“Utopia at Home: Inventing a Socialist Lifestyle,” in Rebecca Freidman & Deirdre Ruscitti Harshman (eds.) The Soviet Home: Domestic Ideology and Practice (Pittsburgh University Press, In press)

“Crossing the divide: Tradition, rupture, and modernity in revolutionary Russia,” co-author with Matthias Neumann, Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide, (Routledge).

“Everyday Revolution: The Making the Soviet Urban Communes,” eds. Adele Lindenmeyr, Christopher Read & Peter Waldron, Russia’s Home Front in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: Book 2. The Experience of War and Revolution (Slavica, 2016)



Enquiries for postgraduate supervision are welcome, especially on the following themes:

Community-based blueprints for socialism

Utopian and socialist experimentation

Lived experience of Russian modernity / the Russian Revolution, / Soviet history.

Revolutionary commemoration

Subjects studied by past students and postdocs include:
Revolutionary commemoration
Soviet penal policy in transnational perspective
Socialist Fashion in the Early Soviet State

Public Engagement

Below are a sample of my public engagement activities. I am available to comment on modern Russian/Soviet history, culture, society, and politics, as well as Anglo-American perceptions of these topics.


Winner of the Alexander Nove Book Prize, awarded 2018. 


2017 BBC 4 TimeWatch – “Russia: A Century of Suspicion”

Listed guest expert for 360 Productions (producer for BBC)

2018 Author interview, ‘Living the Revolution,’ Sean’s Russia Blog Podcast


2017 Interview source for: Talita Marchao, “Communistas no poder,” [Communists in Power] UOL Notícias, São Paulo

Public Lectures:
RA Lates Lecture: “New Soviet World,” Royal Academy of Arts, 18 February 2017
[National Exhibition event for “Revolution: Russian Art, 1917-1932”] 

RA Discussion Panel: “A New Communal: быт—way of life”, Royal Academy of Arts, 10 April 2017 

Organiser: The Annual Stenton Lecture, 2017: “The Russian Revolution: A Hundred Years On,” 23 November 2017 [Live audience: 280; Live-stream audience: 2,437; users reached: 53,836]

‘Living Revolutionary Dreams: Utopia and the Vanguard of 1917,’ Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 16 November 2017

‘Living the Revolution: Inventing a Socialist Lifestyle,’ Institute of Historical Research, The Russian Revolution Centenary Lecture Series, London, 26 September 2017

‘A Century of Revolution in Architecture and Urbanism,’ Calvert Gallery, London, 14 June 2017

‘Living the Revolution,’ Social Histories of the Russian Revolution, Birkbeck Public Lecture Series, London, 15 December 2016

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