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Fellow Seminar

09 January 2020

Dr. John Paul Neman will present his research proposal on the topic: "Twilight of the Idols? Balkan Paramilitarism 1923 - 1941: Interactions, Experiences, and the Dilemmas of Demobilization" on 9 January 2020 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS conference hall.


My paper will focus on the legacies of the ‘Balkan revolutionary tradition' in the interwar period, presenting a comparative analysis of Serbia and Bulgaria. Traditionally, paramilitarism in Bulgaria after the First World War has been understood as part of right-wing territorial revisionist projects of the interwar period, similar to ‘cultures of defeat' in Germany or certain parts of central Europe. But similar radical factions are discernable in Serbia, too, a country that emerged from the Balkan wars and the First World War as a victor state and with its territorial ambitions largely achieved. Rather than think of these societies as victorious or defeated, I want to show how longer term conflicts in the Balkans dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century remained relevant in the interwar period, but become overlaid by the political programmes of mass mobilization at the beginning of Europe's ‘Age of Extremes'. These conflicts quite often cut across national or regional lines, creating new allegiances, new interactions, and new challenges.

John Paul Newman is Associate Professor in Twentieth-century European History. He completed his PhD at the University of Southampton (supervised by Professor Mark Cornwall) and from 2008- 2011 he was an ERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the project 'Paramilitary Violence after the Great War', to which he contributed a case study of violence in the Balkans. He is interested in the modern history of the Balkans and East-Central Europe, with a particular focus on Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Czechoslovakia. His work to date has focussed on war veterans, paramilitary violence, and on the larger legacies left by war in the region.

He has been working on a large research project looking at victorious societies and cultures of war victory in twentieth century Europe, a study of the Croatian General Josip Jelačić and the intersections of national and imperial identities in nineteenth-century Central Europe, and a book-length study of irregular warfare and paramilitary violence in the Balkans, provisionally titled ‘Freedom or Death: A History of Guerilla Warfare in the Balkans'.



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