Seidman, Michael 1950-

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Seidman, Michael 1950-


Born April 29, 1950, in Upper Darby, PA; son of Harry and Beatrice Seidman; children: Rachel. Education: Swarthmore College, B.A., 1972; University of Amsterdam, Ph.D., 1981.


Office—Department of History, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, NC 28403-3297. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer. University of North Carolina at Wilmington, professor of history, 1990—.


Fellow of National Endowment for the Humanities, 1986-87, and American Council of Learned Societies, 1995-96; selection as "outstanding academic title," Choice, 2004, for Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War.


Workers against Work: Labor in Barcelona and Paris during the Popular Fronts, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1991.

Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2002.

Imaginary Revolution: Parisian Students and Workers in 1968, Berghahn Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Seidman's writings have been published in Japanese and Spanish.


Michael Seidman told CA: "My first book, Workers against Work: Labor in Barcelona and Paris during the Popular Fronts, was a byproduct of the years 1979-82, when I lived in Paris. In the French capital I absorbed the critique of work produced by small groups of the extreme left who saw the essence of working-class revolutionary struggle in workers' resistance to wage labor; that is, absenteeism, lateness, sabotage, low productivity. In Workers against Work, I tempered this ultra-left utopianism with an awareness of the dilemmas of economic development and a sympathetic portrayal of those—whether anarchists, socialists, capitalists, or state managers—whose task was to make the workers produce efficiently during the Popular Front in Paris and the Spanish Revolution and Civil War in Barcelona. Thus, anarchists in Barcelona, like capitalists in Paris, were forced to take coercive measures to render workers more productive.

"Workers against Work continues to have an impact, outside and perhaps even within academia, where labor history has been dominated by the progressive model of the 'making" of the working class. Oaska Keizai Hoka University Press translated the work into Japanese in 1998; the University of California Press issued an electronic version in 1999; and Insubordinate Publications, a libertarian collective in Baltimore, produced a pirated paperback edition in 2001. Other anarchist groups and academic journals in England, France, Spain, and Germany have pirated and/or translated various chapters. Reviews by activists and other individuals appear sporadically on the Internet.

"French and European historiographical influences permeated my second book, Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War. I realized that the historiography of the Spanish conflict was almost exclusively political and that a social history could change our understanding of both the civil war and the revolution. At the same time, I wanted to integrate anonymous and nonmilitant individuals into an academic social history that was dominated by class and gender concepts. I embarked upon an examination of the conflict between individuals and society in the Republican zone from 1936 to 1939, when price controls induced both peasants and anarchist/socialist agricultural collectives to return to self-sufficiency and thus starved the urban workers and Republican Army. Franco's Nationalists proved much more effective in feeding their troops and civilian population and eventually triumphed.

"The American Council of Learned Societies awarded me a fellowship to explore little-researched but essential documents on agriculture, food supply, and desertion in the archives of Avila and Salamanca. The book was rapidly translated into Spanish, and it has been reviewed favorably by major Spanish newspapers.

"My third book, Imaginary Revolution: Parisian Students and Workers in 1968, offers a Tocquevillian perspective on France in the year 1968. It questions whether the events of that year were as significant as French and foreign commentators have indicated. Culturally the student movement changed little that had not already been challenged and altered in the late fifties and early sixties. The workers' strikes led to fewer working hours and higher wages, but these reforms reflected the secular demands of the French labor movement. May is remarkable, not by the transformations it wrought, but by virtue of the revolutionary power that much of the French media and most French (and American) scholars have attributed to it."



Journal of Modern History, December, 2004, Paloma Aguilar, review of Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War, p. 978.

Journal of Social History, winter, 2004, Monserrat Miller, review of Republic of Egos, p. 528.