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Entangled Paths Towards Modernity

Contextualizing socialism and nationalism in the Balkans

Augusta Dimou is academic associate researcher at the Institute of Slavic Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany.

The book is a study in comparative intellectual history and discusses how socialist ideology emerged as an option of political modernity in the Balkans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Focusing on how technologies of ideological transfer and adaptation work, the book examines the introduction and contextualization of international socialist paradigms in the Southeast European periphery. At its core is the presentation of three case studies (Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece), intertwined at times through similar, but also divergent paths. Each case aspires to tell a different and yet complementary story with respect to the issue of modernity and socialism. The book analyses the introduction of socialism against the background and in conjunction to other prominent options of political modernity such as nationalism, liberalism and agrarianism.


Acknowledgments I. Introduction II Intellectuals III The ambiguities of modernity (Serbia) IV Caught up in the contradictions of modernity (Bulgaria) V Modernity without socialism (Greece) VI Epilogue List of abbreviations Index

Note: A separately printed Bibliography belongs to this title. Customers who miss this addendum will receive one free of charge upon request indicating postal address, sent to

"Comparative studies of Balkan history are still rare despite the analytical benefi ts of comparing phenomena in societies that shared a lot of structural features but also differed in important respects. Augusta Dimou’s book on the emergence of socialism in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Balkans is therefore a welcome addition to the comparative study of the Balkans. Dimou lays out her main research interest on the opening
page: “How was the international socialist project ‘translated’ . . . in the context of Southeastern Europe?”
Dimou succeeds in making her point, not least by her comparative perspective. At the end she stresses the contribution that socialism, before communists eventually came to power, could have made in the Balkans—not only as a modernizing but also as an internationalist idea that injected new visions of justice into political life. The monograph is of importance for specialists in Balkan history and those with an interest in the history of socialism. It can certainly be used by graduate students." - Slavic Review

"Dimou has a three-fold analytical strategy: firstly to examine the correlation between the Balkan context and the socialist ideology; secondly, to discuss the process of transfer and adaptation of socialist paradigms and thirdly, to explore the potential dynamic that socialism generated as a political option in the three South East European societies. The book is cleverly planned and skillfully accomplished. The three case studies follow chronologically one after the other, illuminating the porblem of the transfer and adaptation of the socialist paradigm at different stages in the three different countries.
This is a rich book, profoundly and thoroughly researched, covering a considerable portion of modern Balkan history. The range of the subject is impressive; the narrative is presented with great erudition and sophistication... the book is Balkanology at its best: each of the stories can be measured and properly understood against the others, like for instance Bulgarian agrarianism versus the Serb Radicals, or Blagoev versus Skleros." - Études Balkaniques

"Augusta Dimou hat sich entschieden, die hochabstrakte und teilweise dogmatisch geführte
Debatte über die Vor- und Nachteile von Vergleich und Transfer als Forschungsansätze kurz und bündig zu besprechen.
Konsequenter als in der bisherigen Literatur arbeitet Augusta Dimou heraus, dass das wichtigste Vorbild und der Ideengeber der Balkansozialisten ursprünglich der russische Populismus war und nicht westliche Parteien. Viel westliches sozialistisches Ideengut erreichte Bukarest, Belgrad oder Sofia sogar auf dem Umweg über Moskau, Odessa oder Tartu / Dorpat. Nicht weniger bedeutsam ist aber das Hervorheben des aus Russland importierten Selbstverständnisses des Intellektuellen als selbständigem sozialen und politischen Akteur, ein im Westen weitgehend unbekanntes Phänomen.
Jeder der drei Fallstudien ist ein eigener Buchteil von recht unterschiedlicher Länge gewidmet: 100 Seiten für die serbischen Populisten, 200 Seiten für den interessantesten Fall, die bulgarischen Marxisten und wiederum 100 Seiten für die Griechen und den Bolschewismus.
Wie eine erneute Lektüre der historiographischen Skizzen zu den Fallstudien zeigt, hat der von Dimou angewandte transnationale Ansatz großen Mehrwert – auch wenn sich vielleicht noch keine neue Synthese aufdrängt, so werden zumindest die alte Konfliktlinien, die noch stark von ideologischen Lagerkämpfen bestimmt waren, infrage gestellt und durch historisch informierte Forschungsfragen ersetzt. Insgesamt leistet Augusta Dimous Studie Pionierarbeit in einem Feld der transnationalen Forschung, das nicht nur für den Balkan, sondern für Europa insgesamt (mit Ausnahme der wichtigsten Vorbildländer) noch kaum exploriert wurde." - H-net, Clio-online

450 pages + 20 pages bibliography
ISBN 978-963-9776-38-8 cloth $60.00 / €55.00 / £50.00