The dissertation focalizes on the militant Left of Central Europe during the interwar period. Fernand Desprès, a little studied but pivotal figure in these milieus, serves as a starting point as well as limit to the research. The project attempts to trace the origin, structure and working mechanisms of revolutionary international networks. Some of the central questions will be: How do ideas, information and power transfer in those networks? Which role does their revolutionary orientation play? How large is the influence one single network-member can establish over the others? The thesis combines a biographical approach with intellectual history and sociology (Sapiro, Kroll and Bourdieu), while including aspects of analytical network-theory (Granovetter and Krackhardt).
The project aims to bridge several research gaps. So far, academia has neglected the historical analysis on the French Communist parties' politics between 1924 and 1934. While research on L'Humanité emerges, the French Communist newspaper remains unstudied as an intellectual milieu itself. Despite Fernand Desprès' role as a mediator and an intellectual, he continues to be an obscure figure. By evaluating some of his various personal correspondences along with signed newspaper articles, Desprès' biography will highlight the limits and functioning of communist structures and hierarchies. It will also provide a rare account of the daily militant activity that was possible within and around them.