What might it mean to translate the French Revolution in ways that open it up for the 21st century? What happens if we understand all historical scholarship as an act of translation, in which the foreign country that is the past is rendered rich and explicable in the present day?

Those are the questions at stake in this conversation between the historian Laura Mason, author of The Last Revolutionaries: The Conspiracy Trial of Gracchus Babeuf and the Equals, Dominic Jaeckle of Tenement Press, and Sanja Perovic and Cristina Viti of the Radical Translations Workshop, whose new book An Anarchist Playbook (published by Tenement) compiles vibrant and politically engaged translations of long-forgotten documents from the final years of the French Revolution, marked by virulent schisms over the meaning of private property, social justice, and the practice of radical equality.

Jean-Baptiste Lesueur (1749-1826). “Le Serment Républicain, 1792”. Gouache sur carton découpé collé sur une feuille de papier lavée de bleu. Paris, musée Carnavalet. Creative Commons.

Sanja and Cristina wish to acknowledge the full editorial team of the Radical Translations Workshop, including Rosa Mucignat, who facilitated both the workshops and the publication of An Anarchist Playbook. Full details of the team and their work can be found at their website.

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