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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 revolution, radicalism, and historical memory. 

My award-wining 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. Reviewers called it ‘Essential’, ‘original and engaging,’ ‘Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and bursting with narrative appeal.’

I am co-editor of ‘Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide’ (Routledge), which offers a pioneering examination of how Russian tradition and pan-European socialist ideas came together to forge the Soviet experience 'across 1917'; and ‘Openness and Idealism: Soviet Posters, 1985-1991’ (Skira), containing over 200 illustrations, interviews with Soviet poster designers, and interpretative essays on the history and aesthetics of Glasnost-era posters.

My next book, ‘Imagining the Revolution,’ under contract with Oxford University press, examines the afterlives of the Paris Commune and the emotional content of socialist story-telling in revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union.

I joined Queen Mary as an Inaugural Fellow of the Institute for the Humanities &Social Sciences (IHSS) in 2019. Before that, I was assistant professor at the University of Reading, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies, and Lecturing Fellow at the University of East Anglia.  

I am the founding director of the Centre for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies (CEREES) at Queen Mary University of London.





Research Interests:

My research has focused on the lived experience of the Russian Revolution and Soviet ideology. This work has been funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, and the British Academy.

 My current research project examines the transnational afterlives of the Paris Commune and the emotional content of socialist story-telling in revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union.


- Alexander Nove Book Prize, awarded 2018

- W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize (Honorable Mention), awarded 2018

- British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, 2017

- Heritage & Creativity Early-Career Research Excellence Prize (University of Reading), 2017

- Editor’s Choice History Today Best Article: ‘People of the Future,’ 2017


Research Interests

- Russian Revolution / Soviet History

- Paris Commune

- International socialism

- Transnationalism

- Revolutionary afterlives / memory / imaginaries  

- Utopia

- Lived experience 

- Urban history


Funded Research Projects 

- British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant: ‘From Paris to Petrograd’ (2023)

- MERL / Heritage & Community Research Residency: ‘Russian Utopia’ (2018)

- British Academy Rising-Star Engagement Award Project: 'The Russian Revolution: 100 Years’ (2017-18)

- Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Leverhulme Trust: '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:

Openness and Idealism: Soviet Posters 1985-1991, co-ed. with J. Speed Carroll, P. Karmel; B. Shayevich, (Skira, 2022). ISBN:  885724564

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).




“Time at Home: The October Revolution and Soviet Temporalities,” History: Journal of the Historical Association (2023) [Open Access]

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

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


Trade Articles:

‘“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



“Glasnost on the Streets,” in Openness & Idealism: Soviet Posters, 1985-1991(Skira, 2022)

“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).

“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)



I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake research in any of the following areas:

Revolutionary Russia
Soviet History / Soviet studies
International socialism
Revolutionary afterlives / memory / imaginaries
Utopia / Intentional Communities

Current PhD Students

Gary Lawson - Nikolai Aleksandrovich Semashko - Political Revolutionary or Healthcare Evangelist?




Public Engagement

Op eds:

“The Paris Commune taught the Bolsheviks how to win a revolution,” Jacobinno. 42 (2021) 



- BBC 1 “Who Do You Think You Are?” (consultant)

- BBC 5 Live “Death of Gorbachev” (consultant)

- Tudor Productions and EM Productions for Amazon Prime: “The Russian Revolution”

- Tudor Productions and EM Productions for Amazon Prime: “Dictators”

BBC 4 TimeWatch – “Russia: A Century of Suspicion” (on-screen)


Public Lectures:

- RA Lates: “New Soviet World,” Royal Academy of Arts, 18 February [National Exhibition opening 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

- ‘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 


Podcasts: Centre for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies (CEREES):

- SRB Podcast, (2018)


Centre for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies (CEREES):


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