Dr Constance Bantman

Senior Lecturer in French and Director of Teaching and Learning
BA, MA, PhD; Former student of the Ecole Normale Superieure (Lyon-LSH)
+44 (0)1483 683065
03 LC 03


Areas of specialism

Franco-British political and cultural exchanges and cross-Channel migrations, 19th and 20th centuries.; History of the French anarchist movement (1870-1918); Methodology of Transnational History; History of Anarchist Terrorism in the long 19th century

University roles and responsibilities

  • Senior Lecturer in French
  • Director of Learning and Teaching
  • Deputy Academic Integrity Officer and Trained Panel Member

My qualifications

PhD in History:
"Anarchismes et anarchistes en France et en Grande-Bretagne (1880-1914): Echanges, representations, transferts"
Paris 13 University
MA in History
Paris 13 University
Trainee researcher and lecturer at the Ecole Normale Superieure Lyon-LSH


Research interests

Indicators of esteem

  • I am on the editorial board of the journals Anarchist Studies and the Journal for the Study of Radicalism. 


  • Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2018.

  • I am a reviewer for The American Historical Review, Anarchist Studies, The Historical Journal, H-Net/H-HistSex, International Review of Social History, Journal of Historical Geography, The Labour History Review, Modern and Contemporary France, Revue d’histoire du XIXe siècle, The Political Quarterly, Theoretical Criminology, Vingtième Siècle; Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris (postdoctoral application reviewer), Royal Society (Fellowship application reviewer).

My teaching


Postgraduate research supervision

My publications


Jean Grave and the Networks of French Anarchism (Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan, in preparation)


The French Anarchists in London (1880-1914): Exile and Transnationalism in the First Globalisation (Liverpool: LUP, 2013)

With Ana Claudia Suriani da Silva, The London Foreign Political Press in Nineteenth-Century London: Politics from a Distance (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)

With Bert Altena, Reassessing the Transnational Turn: Scales of Analysis in Anarchist and Syndicalist Studies (1st ed. Routledge, 2015, 2nd ed. PM Press, 2017)

With Dave Berry, New Perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism: The Individual, the National and the Transnational  (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010)

'The Era of Propaganda by the Deed', in Matthew Adams and Carl Levy (eds.), Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism, Palgrave, 2018, pp. 371-87.


Bantman Constance (2014) Anarchistes de la bombe, anarchistes de l'idée: les anarchistes français à Londres, 1880-1905, Le Mouvement Social 246 pp. 47-61 Cairn International
The political activities of the 450 or so French-speaking anarchists exiled in Great Britain between 1880 and 1914 have recently been the subject of diverging historiographical assessments. The terrorist motive, which the movement's contemporaries were so concerned with, has been taken up by several studies. Yet a transnational approach brings out a very different interpretation: that of a group with a predominantly informal organisation (against the myth of the "anarchist International"), overwhelmed with basic material preoccupations, and more inclined to strategic thinking concerning the revolutionary potential of trade unions than to terrorist pursuits. In the light of this analysis, it is therefore more fruitful to describe London's "French quarter", not as a terrorist outpost, but rather as a node of networks and transfers for the international anarchist movement.
Bantman C (2009) 'Visionaries or Reactionaries? British Anarchism and Modernity'., In: Arts, Politics and Society in Britain (1880-1914). Aspects of Modernity and Modernism. pp. 89-105 Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Bantman Constance (2013) Review of Christophe Charle and Julien Vincent, La Société Civile. Savoirs, enjeux et acteurs en France et en Grande-Bretagne, 1780-1914, Revue d'histoire du XIXe siecle (45) pp. 222-223 Société d'histoire de 1848 et de la Rh19
Bantman Constance (2009) The Militant Go-between: Emile Pouget's Transnational Propaganda (1880-1914), Labour History Review 74 (3) pp. 274-287 Liverpool University Press
This article is a study of the transnational activism of the French anarchist militant Emile Pouget (1860?1931), from his early days in the 1880s as an agitator and as the editor of the scathing anarchist weekly Père Peinard, through to his key role in the spread of revolutionary syndicalism in France and beyond. Against dominant representations focusing on his substantial journalistic and organizational propaganda exclusively within national boundaries, it suggests that Pouget did start off as a locally-minded militant in the 1880s, but later became aware of the great importance of international organization. This contribution depicts Pouget?s year of exile in Britain (1894?1895) as the turning point leading to a greater international emphasis in his activism. Through Pouget, the usually unheeded transnational ramifi cations of belle-époque anarchism and syndicalism are highlighted, as well as the relevance of militant biography for the study of transnational networks and ideological dissemination.
Bantman Constance (2010) From Trade Unionism to Syndicalisme Révolutionnaire to Syndicalism: The British Origins of French Syndicalism, In: Berry D, Bantman C (eds.), New Perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism. The Individual, the National and the Transnational (7) 7 pp. 126-140 Cambridge Scholars Publishing
The French and British trade union organisations of the 1880-1914 period are usually presented as antagonistic, British trade unionism being financially powerful and predominantly conservative, connected in turn with the Liberal Party and the Labour Party set up in 1893, while French unions were numerically weak, fiercely independent from political power, and preached revolutionary methods. This opposition is epitomised by the contrast between the powerful and conservative Trade Union Congress and, on the other hand, the CGT, the French trade union confederation set up in 1895, with its adamant rejection of political alliances formalised by the iconic 1906 Charte d?Amiens. These oppositions are often taken to reflect profound differences in the political orientations of skilled workers (with the contrast between France?s radical artisans and Britain?s labour aristocracy), and in the maturity of industrial development (between France?s decentralised and workshop-based production system and Britain?s more advanced industrialisation). In spite of these partly debatable alleged ideological and socioeconomic differences, the years between 1880 and 1914 saw an intense exchange of ideas and tactics between France and Britain, as trade union organisation and ideology underwent rapid changes on both sides of the Channel. The British organisations evolved from the reformist and elitist culture of the mid-Victorian social consensus into larger, more democratic and combative ?new unions?.1 In France, the trade union movement remained very weak during the 1880s, until the development of the CGT and its formal rejection from parliamentary politics at the turn of the century, triumphant at first, then increasingly problematic.2 In both countries, these years witnessed a succession of periods of strength and decline, in ideological and numerical terms. For these two rapidly-changing movements, developments occurring across the Channel provided both an example and a counter-example through which they could define and reinvent themselves. This chapter maps out these ideological transfers within the revolutionary branch of the international labour movement, insisting on the personal networks underpinning these exchanges and on the processes of reinterpretation and adaptation such cross-influences required. It focuses on the ?ideological? level, rather than the grassroots and organisational levels3: it is a study in transnational exchanges of ideas and debates, which leaves aside the question of the actual impact of these ideas on their intended audiences, the workers.
Bantman Constance (2012) Review of Karine Salomé, L'Ouragan Homicide. L'Attentat politique en France au XIXe siècle, Revue d'histoire du XIXe siecle (44) pp. 198-200 Société d'histoire de 1848 et de la Rh19
Bantman Constance (2013) ''Almost the only free city in the world': mapping out the French anarchist presence in London, late 1870s-1914', In: Kelly D, Cornick M (eds.), A History of the French in London. Liberty, equality, opportunity. (8) 8 pp. 193-215 Institute of Historical Research, University of London
This chapter charts four decades of anarchist presence in London through the prisms of space and perception. Through its rich history of exile, London had by the end of the nineteenth century become a connotated space, a palimpsest. The most literate and educated anarchist exiles were certainly conscious of walking in the footsteps of illustrious refugees, as evidenced by regular references to the generations of revolutionaries who had preceded them in London. These nodded primarily to the post-1848 waves, as journalists noted for instance that the anarchists congregated in one of the rooms of St Martin?s Hall, where the International Working Men?s Association had been set up in 1864, or inscribed themselves in the Communards? lineage: ?One street in the French quarter has conquered fame: it is Charlotte Street and, on this road, one house deserves the honours of history: it is that of Victor Richard, the faithful friend of Vallès and Séverine?. This historical perspective also informed the eyes of beholders, although they were more likely to stress the different character of the anarchists, and especially the discontinuity with the previous, morally noble generations of exiles and the peak of French presence in London: How many French [in London]? A lot less than one may think. One should not assume that the streets of Soho and Fitzroy have regained since the recent explosions the very special character which they had after the Commune. A few rare French shop-fronts among the shop-fronts, a few vaguely familiar figures in Charlott-Street [sic] and in Wind-mill-Street [sic] and that?s it. The importance of this historical lineage means that the London years of the French anarchists can be read both in continuity and in contrast with the preceding waves of revolutionary exile, including from the point of view of outside observers who constantly compared the anarchists with their illustrious predecessors. Their growing hostility and the polemics provoked by the anarchists? presence ? suspected as well as seen ? turned London into a contested space. The novelty which this presence represented must also be stressed, in order to convey the sense of puzzlement expressed by contemporaries ? and by the exiles themselves ? upon seeing or even just imagining these hundreds of individuals recreating an anarchist ?Petite France? in the streets of Soho and Fitzrovia. Their dismay stemmed from the fear of anarchist terrorism, because of the well-established reputation of the French as dynamitards or bombistes, but also from a culture shock, as these comrades were often described as quintessentially French artisans, settling down in London in the heyday of the Victorian Age; the written testimonies left by the French in London as well as by the British observers of these groups testify to the same impression of strangeness and otherness, often conveyed by a close attention to details revealing cultural differences and idiosyncrasies. This chapter emphasises the physicality of this anarchist presence by examining different scales in turn, from the international level ? why, of all places, did the anarchists settle in Britain? ? to the very local, investigating anarchist public and private spaces.
Bantman C, David-Guillou A (2012) 'Les études interculturelles franco-britanniques: définitions et exemples', Revue Francaise de Civilisation Britannique 17 (3) pp. 59-76 Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle
This book is a study of political exile and transnational activism in the late-Victorian period. It explores the history of about 500 French-speaking anarchists who lived in exile in London between 1880 and 1914, with a close focus on the 1890s, when their presence peaked. These individuals sought to escape intense repression in France, at a time when anarchist-inspired terrorism swept over the Western world. Until the 1905 Aliens Act, Britain was the exception in maintaining a liberal approach to the containment of anarchism and terrorism; it was therefore the choice destination of international exiled anarchists, just as it had been for previous generations of revolutionary exiles throughout the nineteenth century. These French groups in London played a strategic role in the reinvention of anarchism at a time of crisis, but also triggered intense moral panic in France, Britain and beyond. This study retraces the lives of these largely unknown individuals ? how they struggled to get by in the great late-Victorian metropolis, their social and political interactions among themselves, with other exiled groups and their host society. The myths surrounding their rumoured terrorist activities are examined, as well as the constant overt and covert surveillance which French and British intelligence services kept over them. The debates surrounding the controversial asylum granted to international anarchists, and especially the French, are presented, showing their role in the redefinition of British liberalism. The political legacy of these ?London years? is also analysed, since exile contributed to the formation of small but efficient transnational networks, which were pivotal to the development and international dissemination of syndicalism and, less successfully, to anti-war propaganda in the run up to 1914.
Bantman Constance (2014) The Franco-British Syndicalist Connection and the Great Labour Unrest 1880s-1914, Labour History Review 79 (1) pp. 83-96 Liverpool University Press
This chapter explores the transfers between French and British trade unionism between 1880 and 1914, and the transnational elaboration of syndicalism in this period. The role of press exchanges and informal personal networks of influential militants is emphasized, as is the fact that influences between French and British militants travelled both ways - not simply from France to Great Britain, as is often assumed. Discourses on these cross-influences by contemporaries are also examined, in order to show that the transnational dimension of syndicalism was perceived and discussed at the time, often in terms of national character. The notable differences between these two brands of syndicalism are also examined, especially regarding the role of the state and the place of antimilitarism.
Bantman Constance (2009) Review of John MERRIMAN, The Dynamite Club. How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror., Revue d'Histoire du XIXe Siecle 39 pp. 178-178 Société d'histoire de 1848 et de la Rh19
Bantman Constance (2013) Review of Timothy Messer-Kruse, The Haymarket Conspiracy. Transatlantic Anarchist Networks, International Review of Social History 58 (1) pp. 131-134 Cambridge University Press
Bantman Constance, Altena B (2015) Reassessing the Transnational Turn: Scales of Analysis in Anarchist and Syndicalist Studies, Routledge, Taylor & Francis
This edited volume reassesses the ongoing transnational turn in anarchist and syndicalist studies, a field where the interest in cross-border connections has generated much innovative literature in the last decade. It presents and extends up-to-date research into several dynamic historiographic fields, and especially the history of the anarchist and syndicalist movements and the notions of transnational militancy and informal political networks. Whilst restating the relevance of transnational approaches, especially in connection with the concepts of personal networks and mediators, the book underlines the importance of other scales of analysis in capturing the complexities of anarchist militancy, due to both their centrality as a theme of reflection for militants, and their role as a level of organization. Especially crucial is the national level, which is often overlooked due to the internationalism which was so central to anarchist ideology. And yet, as several chapters highlight, anarchist discourses on the nation (as opposed to the state), patriotism and even race, were more nuanced than is usually assumed. The local and individual levels are also shown to be essential in anarchist militancy.
Berry D, Bantman Constance (2010) New Perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
This collection presents exciting new research on the history of anarchist movements and their relation to organised labour, notably revolutionary syndicalism. Bringing together internationally acknowledged authorities as well as younger researchers, all specialists in their field, it ranges across Europe and from the late nineteenth century to the beginnings of the Cold War. National histories are revisited through transnational perspectives?on Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland or Europe as a whole?evidencing a great wealth of cross-border interactions and reciprocal influences between regions and countries. Emphasis is also placed on individual activist itineraries?whether of renowned figures such as Errico Malatesta or of lesser-known yet equally fascinating characters, whose trajectories offer fresh perspectives on the complex interplay of regional and national political cultures, evolving political ideologies, activist networks and the individual. The volume will be of interest to specialists working on the history of anarchism and/or trade unionism as well as the political or social history of the countries concerned; but it will also be useful to students and the general reader looking for discussion of the most recent thinking on the historiography of labour and anarchist movements or those wanting a comprehensive overview of the history of syndicalism.
Bantman C (2014) Anarchists, Authorities and the Battle for Public Space, 1880?1914: Recasting Political Protest as Anti-social Behaviour, In: Anti-Social Behaviour in Britain. Victorian and Contemporary Perspectives Palgrave Macmillan
In the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, and especially in the 1890s, anarchists were a small but highly publicised dissident group in many British cities, and especially in London. The identification of the anarchist movement as one of the most striking instances of deviancy by public opinion makes it a relevant case study of non-normative behaviour and its treatment by authorities. This contribution briefly presents the political and economic context from which the anarchist movement emerged, and the modalities of antisocial behaviour with which anarchists came to be associated in public opinion, as expressed in the conservative and tabloid press, parliamentary debates as well as influential theoretical works. Two key aspects emerge from the anarchist example. The first one is the link between immigration, political radicalism and perceived deviancy. Secondly, how the control of public space ? especially the street and high-profile meeting places such as Hyde Park and Trafalgar square ? became a stake in the battle between the state and anarchists, which hinged on issues of law and order, public visibility and political legitimacy. This must be understood in a context of growing labour militancy, which blurred the boundaries between social unrest and crime in public minds.
Bantman Constance (2010) Review of Paul Knepper, The Invention of International Crime: A Global Issue in the Making 1881-1914, Theoretical Criminology: an international journal 14 (4) pp. 540-542 Sage Publications Ltd
Bantman Constance (2010) The Recent Historiography of French Anarchism: Terrorists, Networks, Transnationalism, and a Few Polemics, Modern & Contemporary France 18 (3) pp. 383-389 Routledge, Taylor & Francis
This article reviews three recent books on the history of the late nineteenth-century French anarchist movement?one by the French historian Vivien Bouhey and the other two by American scholars, Alexander McKinley and John Merriman. It replaces these works in the context of a renewed interest in the study of the anarchist movement, as an early example of transnational terrorist organisation, and as a relevant field of application for the historiographic concepts of network and transnationalism. In conclusion, it highlights the differences between French and US approaches to the study of anarchism, and evidences the limits of the ?transnational turn? in this particular historical field.
Bantman C (2016) 'Terrorism and its Policing: Anarchists and the Era of Propaganda by the Deed (1870s-1914)', In: Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice
Bantman Constance (2006) 'Internationalism without an International? Cross-Channel Anarchist Networks, 1880-1914', Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 84 (4) pp. 961-981 Persee
Bantman C (2013) Making Sense of Anarchism. Errico Malatesta's Experiments with Revolution, 1889-1900, INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF SOCIAL HISTORY 58 (3) pp. 523-525 CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS
Jones T, Bantman C (2016) 'From Republicanism to Anarchism: 50 years of French exilic publishing', In: Bantman C, Suriani da Silva A (eds.), The Foreign Political Press in London, 1815-1914. Politics from a Distance. Bloomsbury
Bantman C, Berry D (2016) 'The French Anarchists and the War: from Antimilitarism to Union Sacree', In: Adams M, Kinna R (eds.), Anarchism, 1914-18: Antimilitarism,. militarism and war Manchester University Press
Anarchismes et anarchistes en France et en Grande-Bretagne, 1880-1914 : Échanges, représentations, transferts Cette thèse analyse les relations et les collaborations entre les mouvements anarchistes français et britannique entre 1880 et 1914. À rebours des travaux réduisant l?internationalisme anarchiste à des institutions formelles peu efficaces et polémiques, ou considérant le mouvement dans une optique strictement nationale et donc tronquée, les transferts idéologiques et militants entre ces courants sont détaillés. Le rôle et la densité des réseaux informels et des multiples canaux rendant possibles ces influences croisées sont soulignés, et notamment l?impact des colonies anarchistes françaises installées outre-Manche. L?importance de cet axe franco-britannique s?observe notamment à travers l?essor de la propagande anarcho-syndicaliste de la fin des années 1880 à la Grande Guerre, dans la mise en place de pédagogies libertaires ou de campagnes de protestations internationales. À travers le cas apparemment marginal des anarchistes, cette étude transnationale ouvre également de nouvelles perspectives pour une étude comparée de l?intégration ouvrière en France et en Grande-Bretagne dans les dernières décennies du long XIXe siècle. La réception du mouvement libertaire dans les deux pays offre enfin des perspectives privilégiées pour analyser les sociétés française et britannique de la fin du siècle à travers le prisme d?un groupe dissident et stigmatisé. Anarchisms and Anarchists in France and Great-Britain, 1880-1914: Exchanges, Representations, Transfers This thesis analyses the relations and the interactions between the French and the British anarchist movements from 1880 to 1914. It seeks to counteract the prevalence of studies which reduce anarchist internationalism to polemical and inefficient formal institutions, or consider the movement in a strictly national ? and therefore truncated ? context. The ideological and militant transfers between these movements are emphasised. The role and density of informal networks, and the many channels making such cross-influences possible are brought to light, especially through the impact of the French anarchist colonies living in Britain. The importance of this Franco-British connection can be observed through the rise of anarchosyndicalist propaganda from the late 1880s to the Great War, the implementation of libertarian pedagogic ventures or international protest campaigns. Through the seemingly marginal case of the anarchists, this transnational study also opens new vistas for a comparative study of workers? integration in France and Britain in the last decades of the long nineteenth century. The reception of the libertarian movement also allows for a privileged insight into French and British societies at the end of the century, through the case of a stigmatised dissident group.
Bantman Constance (2017) Louise Michel's London years: a political reassessment (1890-1905), Women's History Review 26 (6) pp. 994-1012 Taylor & Francis
This article proposes a political reassessment of the long period of time spent in London by the French Communard-turned-anarchist Louise Michel (1890-1905). It emphasises the breadth of her militant repertoire as well as her very concrete engagement in specific political projects, and highlights the coherence of her political outlook and activities. This perspective challenges predominantly masculinist portrayals of Michel, which focus heavily on sentiment as an explanation for her political activism, and downplay her overall agency as a militant. It also highlights the limitations of methodological nationalism in analysing Michel?s activities in exile. Four key aspects are examined: Michel?s print and open-air propaganda; her network-building activities; her contribution to libertarian pedagogies through the ?International socialist school? which she set up in Fitzrovia in the early 1890s; and her campaigning activities for the defence of the right of asylum and support for political refugees, at a time when liberal understandings of asylum were being questioned.
Bantman C (2017) Jean Grave and French Anarchism: A Relational Approach (1870s-1914), International Review of Social History 62 (3) pp. 451-477 Cambridge University Press
This article proposes a biographical approach to the study of anarchist activism, applied to the French journalist, editor, theorist, novelist, educator, and campaigner Jean Grave, one of the most influential figures in the French and international anarchist movement between the late 1870s and the First World War. Adopting a relational approach delineating Grave?s formal and informal connections, it focuses on the role of print in Grave?s activism, through the three papers he edited between 1883 and 1914, and highlights his transnational connections and links with progressive circles in France. Due to the central place of both Grave and his publications in the French anarchist movement, this biographical and relational approach provides a basis to reassess the functioning and key strategic orientations of French anarchist communism during its ?heroic period? (1870s-1914), by stressing its transnational ramifications and links beyond the anarchist movement.
The present study investigates, from the point of view of translation, the phenomenon of stand-up comedians performing in more than one language, with a specific focus on English and Italian, and on Italian comedians performing in London. This offers the opportunity to address questions of humour translatability, to observe how performing in a native, as opposed to a second, language impacts performance, and to consider the role that humour and translation can play in situations of diaspora.
For these purposes, a new type of translation needs to be conceptualised for it to be recognised as taking place in bilingual comedy. In doing this, the starting point is the recognition that stand-up comedy represents a form of oral communication, in which the presence of a written text cannot be assumed. The type of translation putatively involved in bilingual stand-up comedy is thus defined as ?oral self-translation?. The notion of ?mental text?, borrowed from the ethnographer Honko (1996), is proposed as the source and target text of this type of translation. The concepts of declarative and procedural memories are then deployed to offer a theoretical model for the content of this mental text.
These challenges call for a phenomenological approach as the main method of this study, in which the experience of a sample of ten bilingual stand-up comedians is investigated by means of in-depth semi-structured interviews. The researcher?s own experience in performing stand-up comedy in both Italian and English is also reflexively interrogated and compared with the participants? experiences, as collected in the interviews.
The results extrapolated from this data suggest that translation does occur in bilingual comedy and that its comic efficacy is considered very satisfactory by the performers themselves, in accordance with their interpretation of the audience?s reaction. This success seems to be correlated with the special degree of freedom enjoyed by the self-translating comedian. The choice of language, moreover, seems to be associated with different performing styles and different levels of emotional involvement from the comedian. In its interaction between performers and audience, oral self-translation of stand-up comedy is shown to partake in the process of ?identity negotiation? (Swann 1987), particularly when this interaction occurs between members of a diaspora and members of the host community.