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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 utopia.

 My award-wining book ‘Living the Revolution: Urban Communes & Soviet Socialism, 1917-1932’ (Oxford University Press)recipient of the Alexander NoveBook Prize and Honorable Mention W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prizetells the story of fiery-eyed, bed-headed youths determined to throw their lot in with the Bolsheviksafter October 1917. Reviewers called it ‘Essential’, ‘original and engaging,’ ‘Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and bursting with narrative appeal.’Additionally, ‘Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide’ (Routledge),co-edited with Matthias Neumann, offers a pioneering examination of how Russian tradition and pan-European socialist ideas came together to forge the Soviet experience 'across 1917'. I have also published numerous articles and chapters onSoviet activists, the concept of ‘Soviet socialist civil society, and community-based blueprints for socialism.

My current research project 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.  




Research Interests:

My research has focused on the lived experience of the Russian Revolution, Soviet activists, and socialist urban experimentation. 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

- Editors Choice History Today Best Article: People of the Future, 2017

Research Interests

- Russian Revolution / Soviet History

- Paris Commune

- International socialism

- Revolutionary afterlives / memory / imaginaries  

- Utopia

- Lived experience

- Urban history

Funded Research Projects

- 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:

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 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).

“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)




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 4 TimeWatch – “Russia: A Century of Suspicion”


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



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