IAS/SIR Speaker Series: Professor Kirwin Shaffer

Bolshevik Anarchists in the Tropics? How the Russian Revolution and the US Red Scare Shaped Caribbean Anarchism, 1917-1930

Coming from Penn State University-Berks, Professor Kirwin Shaffer offered extensive insight on the historical relationship between the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the anarchist movements of the early 1900s in places such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Tampa. While seemingly ironic, the connection between Russian communism and Caribbean anarchism was quite strong due to both groups’ focus on the empowerment and valorization of the working class. During the First Red Scare from 1917 to 1920, a combination of anarchists’ disenchantment with Russian government and repression from U.S. transnational surveillance ultimately led to the elimination of anarchists within the U.S. and the ‘American Caribbean.’ Through his presentation, Professor Shaffer illuminated the details of this intriguing history in which anarchism, communism, imperialism, surveillance, and revolution all intertwined among three vast regions of the world