Theses Doctoral

The Crisis of Spirit: Pan-Balkan Idealism, Transnational Cultural-Diplomatic Networks and Intellectual Cooperation in Interwar Southeast Europe, 1930-1941

Vuljevic, Suzana

The present work tells the story of the rise and fall of a pan-Balkan discourse from the mid-1920s to the eve of the Second World War through an examination of the intellectual output of southeast European diplomat-littérateurs—a range of intellectuals and literati who functioned as conduits between the realms of culture and politics—during the years of dislocation and turmoil following the Great War. It traces the emergence of transnational networks that coalesced around interwar pan-Balkanism, or the wide-ranging and diffuse movement that aimed to forge a union out of Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece and Turkey, as well as to build substantive intellectual and cultural links among these states. Beginning with the Locarno treaties and the attendant optimism for a united Europe, the Universal Peace Congress of 1929 in Athens, followed by an evaluation of the consecutive Balkan conferences of the early 1930s alongside the work of its varied proponents, this dissertation illustrates how the stigmatized regional moniker, “the Balkans,” was, in fact, re-inscribed and endowed with a new, positively-inflected meaning in the course of efforts to bring about a rapprochement. Moving beyond the scope of earlier scholarship that pitted the Balkans against the West, instead this work demonstrates the interconnectedness of Balkan and European intellectual networks, as well as local actors’ overwhelming subscription to the tenets of cultural internationalism. This work examines Greek, Yugoslav and Albanian foreign policy, geopolitical agendas, popular press as well as literature in order to demonstrate that alternatives to the nation-state as a method of state-building and intellectual organization were, in fact, under consideration. Ultimately, this dissertation depicts intellectual life in the Balkans as it unfolds over the course of the interwar decades and explains why the Balkan idea reemerged during this critical interlude.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Mazower, Mark A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 14, 2020