Prof Riccardo Bavaj

Prof Riccardo Bavaj


Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 46 3307
St Katharine's Lodge
Office hours
Friday 1 to 2



Honours modules

  • The Third Reich: History and Historiography
  • Intellectuals in Interwar Western Europe, 1918-1939
  • History, Memory, and Identity in Postwar Western Europe, 1945-2005
  • Mapping Modern Europe: Spatial Perspectives on the 19th & 20th Centuries
  • Twentieth-Century Germany: A Sense of Place

Masters (MLitt) programmes

Research areas

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. For further details see my profiles on and ResearchGate.

Selected publications

  • Doing Spatial History (ed. with Konrad Lawson and Bernhard Struck) (Routledge, London & New York, 2022)
  • ‘Cold War Liberalism in West Germany. Richard Löwenthal and “Western Civilization”’, History of European Ideas (open access; published online: 5 Jul 2022)
  • A Guide to Spatial History: Areas, Aspects, and Avenues of Research (with Konrad Lawson and Bernhard Struck) (2021), URL: [PDF]
  • 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:
  • ‘“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]
  • ‘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]
  • ‘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]
  • ‘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]
  • Nazism and the Ambivalence of Modernity [Die Ambivalenz der Moderne im Nationalsozialismus] (Oldenbourg, Munich, 2003)
  • Reviews in American Historical Review, Journal of Modern History, Central European History, German History, Neue Politische Literatur, Historische Zeitschrift, Francia, H-Soz-Kult, sehepunkte and other journals

Current Research Students

  • Clémentine Anne, 'More Than Passive Victims': Youth Agency in Wartime 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)
  • James Fortuna, American World’s Fairs in the Age of Fascism, 1933-39 (with Kate Ferris, and Sam Rose, School of Art History) – funded by St Leonard’s College (International Doctoral Fees Scholarship)
  • Björn Höfer, Christian Democracy 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, c.1933-60 (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, 1919-39 (with Conan Fischer; co-tutelle with Richard Scully and Alan Scott, University of New England, Australia) - funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program
  • Sokratis Vekris, Panagiotis Kondylis: In Search of the View from Nowhere (co-tutelle with Lazaros Miliopoulos, University of Bonn)
  • Kyra Walters, Radio in the German Provinces, 1930-45

Completed Research Students

  • Jacob Berg, Propaganda and Territorialisation: SA Imagery and Power, 1923-45 (with Conan Fischer; co-tutelle with Richard Scully and Thomas Kehoe, University of New England, Australia) - funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program (PhD 2022)
  • Per Rolandsson, The New Now: German Modernists and News-Media, 1918-1951 (with Caroline Humfress) – funded by the AHRC (PhD 2022)
  • Constantin Eckner, Rhetorics of Asylum: A Study on the Public Debate about Asylum Policy in Germany, 1982-94 – funded by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (PhD 2021) [publication]
  • 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) - Co-Winner of the 2021 PhD Thesis Prize of the German Historical Institute London (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


PhD supervision

  • Clementine Anne
  • Bjorn Hofer
  • Liam King
  • James Fortuna
  • Lauren Holmes
  • Fiona Banham
  • Kyra Walters

Selected publications


See more publications