Dr Svetozar Rajak

Dr Svetozar Rajak

Associate Professor

Department of International History

Room No
Office Hours
Tuesdays, 2pm - 4pm (appointment by Student Hub)
Key Expertise
Cold War, Eastern Europe, Balkans

About me

Dr Rajak holds degrees in economics and in history. He received his PhD in history from LSE. He has been the recipient of a prestigious grant from the British Arts and Humanities Research Council and is a member of the Republic of Serbia’s Archival Legislation Working Group.

Dr Rajak's main fields of interest are the international history of the Cold War, the contemporary history of the Balkans, East Europe, and the making of the post-Cold War international system.

He is also a Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS, centre for the study of international affairs, diplomacy and grand strategy at the LSE. He was previously Academic Director at LSE IDEAS, Head of the Southern Europe International Affairs Programme and Head of the Balkan Initiative. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Cold War History, and co-editor of a multi-volume Collection of Documents on the 'Soviet-British Relations in the Cold War', sponsored by the British and Russian Academies of Sciences.

Other titles: Masters Programmes Director (School liaison inquiries) - for Masters student programme queries please contact the Masters Tutor, Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS and Third year Undergraduate Tutor 


Expertise Details

Cold War; Eastern Europe; Balkans

Teaching & supervision

Dr Svetozar Rajak usually teaches the following courses in the Department:

At postgraduate level:

HY400: Crisis Decision-Making in War and Peace 1914-2003 

 Watch Dr Svetozar Rajak talk about HY465, how it is structured and how students can benefit from taking it in order to better understand the world we live in today.

Dr Svetozar has supervised the following PhD students in the past:

 Research student  Provisional thesis title
 Daniel Berman  Playing the patron: Croatian-American relations and the development of American policy in Yugoslavia, 1989-1995

Dr Svetozar has also received praise for his teaching over the years. Here are a few of his students' testimonials:

"HY465 was my favourite course during my Masters studies. When I chose it I already had some prior knowledge of the history of Southeastern Europe, which made me think it would be one of the 'easier' classes. Instead, it was incredibly dynamic, challenging, and demanding in the most positive of ways. Every topic we engaged with, from resistance movements during World War II, over diverging ideological pathways of Balkan states, to the violent dissolution of former Yugoslavia, opened a whole new array of questions which nudged me to go beyond the literature in search of answers. In that quest, I found sources and developed research skills that have proven invaluable, and it made my passion for the topics all the greater. I was not alone in this: the class discussions were always lively and often continued long after the class had finished. Our professor, Dr Rajak, was amazing in facilitating all of that. He taught us not only about the history of the Balkans (on which he is undeniably an expert), but more importantly, he taught us how to think, to question everything and to never settle for conveniently simple narratives. He never stifled a debate, was always willing to answer all of our queries, and always treated us not only as students but as scholars. In other words, our class was the perfect environment for learning and for making life-long connections to people passionate about the same topics as I. I will truly miss this course, but walking from it I am more excited than ever before to use the knowledge and skills I have gotten from it in my future research and career."

P. Balazic (2017/18)

"There are a number of reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed taking thiscourse. First of all, Dr Rajak is a great teacher. He cares a lot about his students and is always available to give extensive feedback and help. He knows a great deal and is clearly passionate about the subject area. Secondly, the topics covered were diverse and interesting. The main thing I'll take from this course is gaining an in depth understanding of the Yugoslav wars and Kosovo crisis. Finally, as a philosophy student, I learnt a great deal about historiography and historical methods, and I did not feel out of my depth. Overall, this was a great course, and I would thoroughly recommend it to any students interested in the Balkans, regardless of whether they have a history background or not."

O. Patel (2014/15)

"The course was excellent. Not only did it present a thorough history of a fascinating and much understudied region with an intriguing and diverse history and culture, its scope and the way the seminars were run encouraged me to challenge historical and social perceptions like no other course I have taken. Not only did it enhance my knowledge and understanding of a region whose international significance is growing, it also proved extremely significant in helping to form a more critical and questioning mindset, arguably the most important aspect of a university education."

T. Fish (2013/14)

"When I decided to enroll in a course on the History of the Balkans since 1939, I knew very little about the complexity and diversity of the region. Throughout the course, I found it very interesting to explore the effect that the Cold War and the global ideological divide had on the unity and relations within the Balkans. I also discovered the momentous role that the Balkans, especially the eventually non-aligned Yugoslavia, played in shaping the Cold War conflict. As the course progressed, it moved on to discussing the tumultuous changes that the whole region underwent as the world was moving towards a 'New World Order' and the new democratic Balkan states were grappling with post-Communist transition. I was very pleased with the course, and did not find a dull class in it; the class discussions covered a large variety of topics and ideas that resonated not only with this course, but were applicable to the conceptual study of history as a whole. I would advise this course for anyone searching to understand the intricate relationship between a shifting global environment and a region very much caught in the middle."

I. Vaivode (2013/14)

"HY465 provided me the opportunity to explore a variety of issues within the context of one geographical region. The Balkans serve as a prime case study for issues modeled throughout the rest of the world including ethnic violence, the clash of religions and cultures, the effects of macro-economic policies and ideologies on political systems, and most importantly the effects, (sometimes catastrophic) of relationships between world powers and smaller states. Dr. Rajak's teaching style enabled us as students to explore ideas and questions through vivid discussion, dispelling common stereotypes in the process. The class certainly improved my ability to think critically and communicate effectively as Dr. Rajak avidly pushed us to not blindly accept what we read, but to thoroughly analyze and compare with a variety of sources. Through Hy 465 I developed some of my closest friendships at LSE and always felt Dr. Rajak genuinely cared not only about our progress as students, but our development as leaders and human beings."

D. Wade (2013/14)

“HY465 course was, according to my opinion, the most interesting course of my Master’s year in LSE due to my personal interest on the region and the way it was taught. The structure of the course, (preparatory themes before each class, debates, presentations, and discussions that followed), was not only intellectually engaging but also very interesting. Due to this formula, I believe that I developed a deeper knowledge about subjects such as the Tito/Stalin split and the Yugoslavian Civil War (and many more), which I was not previously aware of. Furthermore, even though the focus of the course was on the Balkans, it was always given emphasis to the international framework and complexities of each subject. Due to all the above, and the personal interest and guidance of the teacher, I felt really prepared by the time of the exams. More importantly, I felt much benefited as a student and as a person on the whole. Finally, I felt that beyond the concrete knowledge I gained from the course, I was introduced to a methodology of working/thinking/writing that will benefit me on whatever I do in the future. For all the above reasons, I propose the HY465 course without any hesitation.”

A. Diamantis-Balaskas (2013/14)


Dr Rajak is the author of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union In the Early Cold War: Reconciliation, Comradeship, Confrontation, 1953-1957 (London, New York: Routledge, 2010). He has recently co-edited a book with K. E. Botsiou, E. Karamouzi and E. Hatzivassiliou, The Balkans in the Cold War (London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and contributed a chapter on 'The Cold War in the Balkans, 1945-1956: From the Greek Civil War to Soviet-Yugoslav-Normalization' in Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (eds), Cambridge History of the Cold War, Volume I: Origins (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). He is also the author of numerous articles on the Cold War and contemporary history of the Balkans.


News & media


New Book and Book Launch Event, The Balkans in the Cold War

Dr Svetozar Rajak's new book, The Balkans in the Cold War, was published by Palgrave MacMillan in February. The edited volume, co-organised with PhD alumna Dr Eirini Karamouzi (University of Sheffield), Professor Evanthis Hatzivassiliou (University of Athens) and Dr Konstantina E. Botsiou (University of Peloponnese), explores the origins, unfolding and impact of the Cold War on the Balkans on the one hand, and the importance of regional realities and pressures on the other. Fifteen contributors from history, international relations, and political science address a series of complex issues rarely covered in one volume, namely the Balkans and the creation of the Cold War order; Military alliances and the Balkans; uneasy relations with the Superpowers; Balkan dilemmas in the 1970s and 1980s and the ‘significant other’ – the EEC; and identity, culture and ideology. The book’s particular contribution to the scholarship of the Cold War is that it draws on extensive multi-archival research of both regional and American, ex-Soviet and Western European archives. The book launch took place on Friday, 28 April, at LSE IDEAS with introductory comments by Professor Arne Westad (Harvard) and Dr Vesselin Dimitrov (LSE).