Welcome back to Week 8 of LA COMMUNE 2021, a virtual free school experience hosted by Roxanne Panchasi (a.k.a. RP) in collaboration with UNIT/PITT Society for Art and Critical Awareness. If you’re just joining us this week, you might want to take a look at the content from the previous seven weeks to help get you situated. You can also dip into and out of the content as you like, in whatever order appeals to you. Free really means free!

The Paris Commune erupted in the spring of 1871 following more than a century of political, social, and economic transformation in France. After months of war and siege, the French capital’s working-class population rose up in March, holding elections, and forming their own government, The revolutionaries of the Commune attempted a complete overhaul of all aspects of life in the city. Instituting political and economic reforms, they also pursued a program of universal public education, the separation of church and state, and the promotion of a radical culture.


Our free school TIMELINE includes a number of key events that may help to situate events chronologically and within the broader history of nineteenth-century France. We’ll be adding dates to the timeline each week, following events from March through May as we go.

RADIO 1871 

Each week of LA COMMUNE 2021 is anchored around an episode of radio 1871, an audio series created for a seminar in History at Simon Fraser University in 2021 with subsequent release via this free school in mind.

This week’s episode features RP in conversation with Dr. Ronen Steinberg about political violence and the Semaine sanglante (bloody week) of the Paris Commune’s suppression by the French state at the end of May 1871. 

Ronen is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Michigan State University whose research focuses on the French Revolution, transitional justice, and mass violence. He is the author of The Afterlives of the Terror: Facing the Legacies of Mass Violence in Postrevolutionary France, published by Cornell University Press in 2019. While the book’s focus is on an earlier period of French history, the insights and ideas it holds offer a fascinating framework for thinking through the violence and trauma of 1871. Ideal for a free school like this one, the book is an open access publication that you can download/read via the link above.


Robert Tombs. “How Bloody Was La Semaine Sanglante of 1871? A Revision.” The Historical Journal 55, 3 (September 2012) [Register for a free account at JSTOR to read up to 100 sources per month, including this one!]

Ann Rigney. “Remembering Hope: Transnational Activism Beyond the Traumatic.” Memory Studies 11, no. 3 (2018)

Alexander Vasudevan. “The Autonomous City: Towards a Critical Geography of Occupation.” Progress in Human Geography 39, no. 3 (June 1, 2015)

RFI/Radio France Internationale. “French Workers Celebrate May Day Despite Clashes and Arrests in Paris, Lyon.”  (Jan 5, 2021)

The Conversation. “Revolutionary Ideals of the Paris Commune Live on in Black Lives Matter Autonomous Zone in Seattle.” (June 15, 2020)


Don’t forget to check out the HAPPENINGS & HEADS-UPs section! The section also includes information about other Paris Commune-related & Commune-spirited events taking place in various sites during the period of the Free School.

SAVE THE DATE for our next LA COMMUNE 2021 Event:

 EN GRÈVE!: 1970s French Labour Activisms on Screen

Thursday, May 20 18:00 PDT / 21:00 EDT

Zoom // Free

Register by emailing: register@unitpitt.ca 

You may also register through Eventbrite

Join UNIT/PITT and VIVO Media Arts Centre for a conversation focused on labour activisms in France in the ‘70s, one century after the Paris Commune of 1871. Special guests Nathan Crompton (Simon Fraser University), Karen Knights (VIVO Media Arts Centre), and Donald Reid (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) will engage in a discussion anchored around a set of videos from the era housed in the Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive at VIVO Media Arts Centre. 

More details soon…stay tuned!