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Research at St Andrews

Riccardo Bavaj


Riccardo Bavaj
Postal address:
School of History
Modern History
St Katharine's Lodge, The Scores
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Web address:

Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 463307

Research overview

I am a historian of modern Germany with an interest in transnational history. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Bonn in 2004 and worked as a research fellow at the Institute for Regional Studies in Münster before taking up a lectureship in modern European history at the University of St Andrews in 2005. From 2009 to 2012 I was a Feodor Lynen Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. My research focuses primarily on the twentieth century and is situated at the intersection of intellectual, conceptual and spatial history. It is particularly concerned with the history of radicalism, liberalism, modernity, academia and the idea of the West.

My first book, published with Oldenbourg in 2003, investigates the relationship between Nazism and modernity. It argues that the Third Reich did not so much provide a driving force behind the modernization of twentieth-century Germany as create an ‘alternative modernity’ – a racist, anti-pluralist modernity that revealed the inner ambiguity of the modern age. My second book (2005) examines the multifaceted utopias that were imagined by Weimar’s radical Left. It argues that an anti-parliamentary strand of ‘life-ideology’ cut across the divide between left- and right-wing extremism, presenting a decisive challenge to a republic that was cast in terms of a ‘cold’ ‘bureaucratic machine’ controlled by ‘bourgeois ideologies’.

More recently, I have published a new history of National Socialism, which explores the political and cultural preconditions of Nazism's rise to power, the formative contexts of its core ideas, and the evolution of a Nazi 'people's community' as a social space in the making: both in the public sphere and the privacy of the home, in churches, schools, and factories, on fighting and home fronts. I have also co-edited a volume on German notions of ‘the West’, which examines the shifting meanings, political uses, and transnational circulations of the idea of 'the West' from the post-Napoleonic era to the Cold War. Building on this volume, I have recently co-organized a series of workshops that traced the discourse on ‘the West’ across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. I am currently working on a research project on academics and transatlantic liberalism in the Cold War era, and I am also in the process of co-editing a volume on Doing Spatial History, which will appear in the series ‘Routledge Guides to Using Historical Sources’. For further details see my profiles on and ResearchGate.

Selected publications

  • Civilisational Mappings. ‘The West’ at the Turn of the Century [Zivilisatorische Verortungen. Der ‘Westen’ an der Jahrhundertwende (1880-1930)] (ed. with Martina Steber) (De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin & Boston, 2018)
  • A Spatial History of Nazism [Der Nationalsozialismus] (be.bra, Berlin, 2016; Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, Bonn, 2016)
  • Germany and ‘the West’. The History of a Modern Concept (ed. with Martina Steber) (Berghahn, New York & Oxford, 2015; paperback 2017)
  • Intellectuals in the Cold War [Intellektuellengeschichte im Kalten Krieg] (ed. with Dominik Geppert) (Special Issue of Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 65 [2014], No. 3/4, pp. 133-216)
  • ‘Life, History, and Political Modernism’, The German Quarterly 90 (2017), No. 3 [Forum]
  • 'Pluralizing Democracy in Weimar Germany. Historiographical Perspectives and Transatlantic Vistas', in Paul Nolte (ed.), Transatlantic Democracy in the Twentieth Century. Transfer and Transformation (Schriften des Historischen Kollegs. Kolloquien, vol. 96) (Oldenbourg, Munich, 2016), 53-73 [PDF]
  • ‘Young, Old, and In-Between. Liberal Scholars and “Generation Building” at the Time of West Germany’s Student Revolt’, in Anna von der Goltz (ed.), ‘Talkin’ ’bout My Generation’. Conflicts of Generation Building and Europe’s 1968 (Wallstein, Göttingen, 2011), 177-194 [PDF]
  • "The West": A Conceptual Exploration, European History Online / Europäische Geschichte Online (2011), URL:
  • ‘Intellectual History’, Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte. Begriffe, Methoden und Debatten der zeithistorischen Forschung (2010), URL:
  • ‘“Western Civilization” and the Acceleration of Time. Richard Löwenthal’s Reflections on a Crisis of “the West” in the Aftermath of the Student Revolt of “1968”’, Themenportal Europäische Geschichte (2010), URL:
  • ‘“Revolutionierung der Augen”. Politische Massenmobilisierung in der Weimarer Republik und der “Münzenberg-Konzern”’, in Ute Daniel et al. (eds.), Politische Kultur und Medienwirklichkeiten. Zur Kulturgeschichte des Politischen nach 1918 (Oldenbourg, Munich, 2010), 81-100 [PDF]
  • ‘Turning “Liberal Critics” into “Liberal-Conservatives”. Kurt Sontheimer and the Re-Coding of the Political Culture in the Wake of the Student Revolt of “1968”’, German Politics & Society 27 (2009), 39-59 [PDF]
  • ‘Ideologierausch und Realitätsblindheit. Raymond Arons Kritik am Intellektuellen “französischen Typs”’, Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History 5 (2008), No. 2, 332-338, URL:
  • ‘Deutscher Staat und westliche Demokratie. Karl Dietrich Bracher und Erwin K. Scheuch zur Zeit der Studentenrevolte von 1967/68’, Geschichte im Westen 23 (2008), 149-171 [PDF]
  • ‘Verunsicherte Demokratisierer. “Liberal-kritische” Hochschullehrer und die Studentenrevolte von 1967/68’, in Dominik Geppert & Jens Hacke (eds.), Streit um den Staat. Intellektuelle Debatten in der Bundesrepublik 1960-1980 (Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 2008), 151-168
  • ‘Gegen den Bürger, für das (Er-)Leben. Raoul Hausmann und der Berliner Dadaismus gegen die “Weimarische Lebensauffassung”’, German Studies Review 31 (2008), No. 3, 513-536 [PDF]
  • 'Lebensideologischer Kommunismus als Alternative. Heinrich Vogelers Utopie vom "neuen Leben" im Krisendiskurs der Weimarer Republik, Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 55 (2007), 509-528
  • ‘Otto Kirchheimers Parlamentarismuskritik in der Weimarer Republik. Ein Fall von “Linksschmittianismus”?’, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 55 (2007), 33-51 [PDF]
  • ‘Was bringt der “Spatial Turn” der Regionalgeschichte? Ein Beitrag zur Methodendiskussion’, Westfälische Forschungen 56 (2006), 457-484 [PDF]
  • ‘Hybris und Gleichgewicht. Weimars “antidemokratisches Denken” und Kurt Sontheimers freiheitlich-demokratische Mission’, Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History 3 (2006), No. 2, 315-321, URL:
  • Nazism and the Ambivalence of Modernity [Die Ambivalenz der Moderne im Nationalsozialismus] (Oldenbourg, Munich, 2003)

Current Research Students

  • Clémentine Anne, Children’s Wartime Experiences in France, 1940-44
  • Fiona Banham, A History of Spatial History, 1945-2020 (with John Clark) - funded by St Leonard’s College and the School of History (Handsel Scholarship)
  • Jake Berg, The Visual Image of the Sturmabteilung in Nazi Germany (with Conan Fischer; co-tutelle with Richard Scully and Thomas Kehoe, University of New England, Australia) - funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program
  • Constantin Eckner, Rhetorics of Asylum in Germany and Europe, 1982-2003 – funded by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation
  • James Fortuna, Architectural Diplomacy, Cultural Heritage, and the Popular Reception of Fascist Participation in the International Expositions of 1933-42 (with Kate Ferris, and Sam Rose, School of Art History) – funded by St Leonard’s College (International Doctoral Fees Scholarship)
  • Björn Höfer, Christian Democrats in the Making: Political Catholicism between Weimar Germany and the early Federal Republic (co-tutelle with Dominik Geppert, University of Potsdam) – funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation
  • Lauren Holmes, German Émigrés and the British Art Scene, 1933-45 (with Sam Rose, School of Art History) - funded by St Leonard's College (Interdisciplinary Scholarship)
  • Liam King, The Situationist International and the British Punk Movement (with Gillian Mitchell)
  • Teresa van der Kraan, Shaping Fascism in Germany & Austria, 1919-1939 (with Conan Fischer; co-tutelle with Richard Scully and Alan Scott, University of New England, Australia) - funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program
  • Per Rolandsson, The New Now: German Modernists and News-Media, 1918-1951 (with Caroline Humfress) – funded by the AHRC

Completed Research Students

  • Jonathan Triffitt, Twilight of the Princes: The Fall and Afterlife of Monarchy in Southern Germany, 1918-1934 (with Frank Lorenz Müller) – funded by the Carnegie Trust (recipient of the Robertson Medal) (PhD 2021)
  • Daniel Führer, Ordinary Germans between Individuality, State and Community in the Inter-war Period (co-tutelle with Dominik Geppert, University of Bonn) – funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (PhD 2019) [publication]
  • Denis Kitzinger, Dietrich von Hildebrand: A Catholic Intellectual in the Weimar Republic (PhD 2017) [publication]
  • Jack Woods, ‘Building Castles in the Air‘: Oral Folklore in the Lodz Ghetto at the Time of the Nazi Occupation (with Conan Fischer) – funded by a St Andrews 600th Anniversary Scholarship (PhD 2017) [publication]
  • Kevin McNamara, In the Service of His Majesty’s Government: The British Embassy and Consulate Network in Nazi Germany, 1937-39 (with Conan Fischer) (PhD 2017)
  • Alex Burkhardt, Democrats into Nazis? The Radicalisation of the Bürgertum in Hof-an-der-Saale, 1918-1924 (with Conan Fischer) – funded by a St Andrews 600th Anniversary Scholarship (PhD 2016) [book publication; journal publications: Postwar ‘Existential Conflict’ & A Republican Potential]
  • Andrew Dodd, West German Editorial Journalists between Division and Reunification, 1987-1991 (PhD 2013)
  • Daniel Rondags, Martin Broszat, Saul Friedländer and the Historicization of the Third Reich (MPhil 2011)

Administrative Duties


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