Personal profile

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 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 academia.edu and ResearchGate.

Selected publications

  • Doing Spatial History (ed. with Konrad Lawson and Bernhard Struck) (Routledge, London & New York, 2022) (see open-access review forum in Cultural History 13/1 [2024])
  • ‘Cold War Liberalism in West Germany. Richard Löwenthal and “Western Civilization”’, History of European Ideas 49 (2023), 607-624 (open access) (featured in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 Feb 2024)
  • A Guide to Spatial History: Areas, Aspects, and Avenues of Research (with Konrad Lawson and Bernhard Struck) (2021), URL: spatialhistory.net/guide [PDF]
  • Civilisational Mappings. ‘The West’ at the Turn of the Century [Zivilisatorische Verortungen. Der ‘Westen’ an der Jahrhundertwende (1880-1930)] (ed. with Martina Steber) (open access: 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: http://www.ieg-ego.eu/bavajr-2011-en
  • ‘Intellectual History’, Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte. Begriffe, Methoden und Debatten der zeithistorischen Forschung (2010), URL: http://docupedia.de/zg/Intellectual_History
  • ‘“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: www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/16126041-Bavaj-2-2008
  • ‘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

  • Emilie Aebischer, Writing History in the Face of Fanaticism: Ernst Cassirer and his Reception as a Historian (with Richard Whatmore)
  • 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)
  • Olivier Feis, 'Purifying' the Nordic Space: Germany, Scandinavia, and Transnational Eugenics (with Bernhard Struck) - funded by St Leonard’s College and the School of History (Handsel Scholarship)
  • 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, British Punk and Situationism: Investigating the ‘Secret History’ of Punk (with Gillian Mitchell)
  • James Krull, Mourning with the 'Force of History': National Days of Remembrance in Germany and the UK since 1945 (co-tutelle with Christine Krüger, University of Bonn) - funded by St Leonard's College and a Santander International Exchange Grant
  • Ryan Phillips, Holocaust Education and Remembrance Culture in Scotland, 1970s-today (with Malcolm Petrie) - funded by St Leonard's College (Widening Access PhD Scholarship)
  • Teresa van der Kraan, More than just Hitlerism: National Socialisms and Perceptions of Italian Fascism, 1919-33 (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 (with Vassilios Paipais, School of International Relations; co-tutelle with Lazaros Miliopoulos, University of Bonn) - funded by St Leonard’s College and the School of History (Handsel Scholarship)
  • Kyra Walters, Radio in the German Provinces, 1930-45

Completed Research Students

  • James Fortuna, The 1939 New York World’s Fair: Cultural Diplomacy in the Age of Fascism (with Kate Ferris, and Sam Rose, School of Art History) – funded by St Leonard’s College (International Doctoral Fees Scholarship) (PhD 2023) [publication]
  • 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) [press coverage]
  • 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

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Academic/Professional Qualification

Feodor Lynen Research Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation / Visiting Assistant Professor, Saint Louis University (09/2009 – 08/2011)

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (since 2006)

Research Scholarship, Institute of European History, Mainz (declined) (03 – 12/2006)

Research Scholarship, Fritz Thyssen Foundation (03 – 08/2005)

Ph.D. Scholarship, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (10/2002 – 09/2004)

Teaching activity

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

Profile Keywords

German History; 20th Century; Intellectual History; Transnational History; Spatial History

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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