The International History of the Balkans since 1939: State Projects, Wars, and Social Conflict

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Svetozar Rajak T1, 9.01c


This course is available on the MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course examines the history of the Balkans in the second half of the Twentieth century and on the threshold of the Twenty First century. It is not, however, designed to provide a simple historical overview of the region during this period. The course aims to integrate broader themes and interpretations of the Cold War and its legacy, and of deeper civilizational undercurrents of the second half of the Twentieth Century, with the study of the region and its only federation, Yugoslavia. To do so, it will invoke three main themes that will also facilitate insight into the interaction between the global, regional, and country specific. Firstly, the course will explore the regional and inter-bloc dynamics within the structured Cold War system by looking at the impact the Cold War had on the region and, in turn, at the influence the Balkans, in particular the Greek Civil War and Yugoslavia's conflict with the USSR exercised on the institutionalization and the dynamics of the Cold War during its nascent decade. Secondly, the course will look into the unique role Yugoslavia played in the creation of the alternatives and challenges to the bipolar structure and rigidity of the Cold War world, namely the Non-aligned Movement, and the ideological heresy, the so called "Yugoslav road to Socialism" that created a schism within one of the ideological poles of the Cold War, the Soviet Communism. Thirdly, the course will offer insight into the dramatic impact the end of the Cold War on the developments in the region, in particular on the collapse of the Yugoslav federation; at the same time, it will assess the role that the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the subsequent wars of secession had on the creation of the concepts that became the building blocks of the post-Cold War international system, namely nation-building, humanitarian intervention, international community, conflict-resolution, limited sovereignty, decreasing role of the UN, American hegemony, etc.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write one 3,000 word essay in the Michaelmas term. There will also be a mock exam (a one-hour essay) in the end of the Lent term.

Indicative reading

Crampton, Richard J., The Balkans Since the Second World War, (New York: Longman, 2002)

Glenny, Misha, The Balkans 1804 - 1999: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, (London, Granta Books, 1999)

Ramet, Sabrina, The Three Yugoslavias: State Building and Legitimation, 1918-2005, (Washington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Bloomingtin and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006)

Todorova Maria, Imagining the Balkans, Oxford University Press, 1997

Lawrence S. Wittner, American Intervention In Greece, 1943-1949, (New York, Columbia University Press, 1982)

Peter J. Stavrakis, Moscow and Greek Communism, 1944-1949, (Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 1989)

Rajak, Svetozar, The Cold War in the Balkans: From the Greek Civil War to the Soviet-Yugoslav Normalization in Leffler, Melvyn and Westad, Arne (eds), The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Volume I: Origins, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Woodward, Susan L., Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War, (Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995)

Bose, Sumantra, Bosnia After Dayton: Nationalist Partition and International Intervention, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Latawski, Paul, and Smith Martin A., The Kosovo Crisis and the Evolution of Post-Cold War European Security, (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003)


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Class participation (15%) and presentation (10%) in the MT and LT.


Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2015/16: 17

Average class size 2015/16: 17

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information