Until the Second World War, the idea of a united or federal Europe was mostly debated in isolated circles of intellectuals, writers, and academics. From today’s perspective, it is interesting to see that some of the most radical concepts of a federal Europe were designed in Great Britain. William Stead, a controversial journalist and editor, wrote the “United States of Europe” already in 1899, arguing for peace, Esperanto and international collaboration. Other British visionaries suggested to create a United Europe, though it was always unclear whether or not England would be part of that.
In this research project I will focus on one initiative called “The New Europe Group”. This think-tank started in 1931 and was aiming at collaboration between Great Britain and Europe. The NEG had the conviction that “politics had failed”, and suggested to create new social structures based on grass-roots movements and social networks. They articulated an earlier version of the “Principle of Subsidiarity”: decisions had to be taken by the smallest groupings of those who must implement them. The NEG positioned itself against the Russian communist movement and the American “civilization of materialism”, foreboding the “Third Way” in post-war Europe. Paradoxically, the NEG combined Eurocentrism with Anglocentrism, believing that England “will lead the States of Europe towards an integrated life.”
In retrospect, this New Europe Group has become quite an anomaly. After Brexit, it makes sense to analyze earlier attempts and/or utopian ideas to bring Great Britain closer to the continent, both politically and culturally.
This research is made possible by the department of European Studies (The Hague)
In my PhD-thesis I wrote about the Young Bosnian student networks in the university towns of Zagreb, Belgrade, Vienna and Prague. Young Bosnia has become known in global history as the association behind the 19-year old assassin Gavrilo Princip, who shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife in This assassination led to the outbreak of the First World War.
In my research I went beyond these well-known historical facts, and focuses instead on the question of what it meant to be young in Austro-Hungarian Bosnia before the Great War. Bosnia in 1900 was a country with a small elite, almost no bourgeoisie, and a large percentage of poor peasantry. As one would expect, the newly developed Austrian education system resulted in some important social changes. New social dynamics brought with them emergent forms of social strain. Peasant students in particular obtained access to the higher, urban ranks of society. This sudden upward mobility influenced their political awareness.
In sum, the thesis is after all about social networks in the realm of education, about youth subcultures and the political awareness of young people at the beginning of the 20th century in Europe’s most vibrant and puzzling peripheral region. This study elaborates on the rise and fall of young Bosnian student networks – stuck between tradition and progress, between the Balkans and Europe, and between past and present.
A part of my research was disseminated in the publication De Dagen van Gavrilo Princip (The Days of Gavrilo Princip), which was published in 2014.
–> Actor Network Theory (ANT) and Bosnian education during Austro-Hungarian times
–> The spatial question in Austro-Hungarian education
–> Esoteric and spiritist thinking in the Interwar period
–> Memory culture in Europe (with special focus for Ex-Yugoslavia)