© Jutta Benzenberg

Univ. Prof. Dr. Oliver Jens Schmitt

Professor of Southeast European History, at the University of Vienna

Before becoming full professor of Southeast European History at the University of Vienna, Oliver Jens Schmitt taught at the universities of Munich and Berne. In 2010, he taught as invited professor at the Collège de France. Since 2017 he is the President of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Austrian Academy of Sciences; he is also the head of the research department Balkan Studies at the Institute of Modern and Contemporary History, Austrian Academy of Sciences. Recent book publications: România în 100 de ani. Bilanţ unui veac de Istorie. Bucharest 2018; Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. Ascensiunea şi căderea “Căpitanului”. Bucharest 2017 (enlarged translation of: Căpitan Codreanu. Aufstieg und Fall des rumänischen Faschistenführers. Vienna 2016); Politics and Peasants in Interwar Romania. Perceptions. Mentalities, Propaganda. Newcastle upon Tyne 2017 (co-edited with Sorin Radu); Kulturgeschichte der Überlieferung. Quellen und Methoden zur Geschichte Mittel- und Südosteuropas. Cologne-Weimar-Vienna 2017 (co-edited with Elisaebth Gruber and Christina Lutter); The Ottoman Conquest of the Balkans. Interpretations and Research Debates. Vienna 2016.


The Balkan States and the Impact of Regional Political Cultures since 1918

Constitutional democracies had a short and difficult life in the interwar Balkans. Its chances were limited both in victorious and vanquished states. The paper aims at explaining regional developments not in the frame of national states, but as postimperial history.

Romania and Yugoslavia constituted postimperial composite states whose official nationalist ideologies stood in sharp contrast to internal political and socio-cultural diversity. Among the interwar Balkan national states, only Greece was transformed by a radical population exchange into a ethnically homogenous national state which successfully eliminated almost all traits of Ottoman rule. Romania and Yugoslavia as self-declared national states led an intensive, but eventually mostly ineffective struggle against the multiple (Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian) imperial heritage. While historiography has traditionally insisted on discontinuities after 1918, this paper explores to what degree postimperial continuity lines can help us to understand the rise of authoritarian regimes.

Programme: Keynote 2, Wednesday, 5 September 2018, 11:00-12:30