Prof Djokić's research interests lie in the field of modern history of the Balkans, in particular political, social and cultural history of former Yugoslavia. Prof Djokić's wider interests include the rise and development of national ideologies in nineteenth-century Europe, democracy and dictatorship in interwar Europe, and Cold War history. Prof Djokić seems himself both as a historian of modern Europe who specializes in former-Yugoslavia, and as an area studies scholar, engaging with, among others, anthropologists, cultural studies scholars and political and social scientists researching the Balkans.
In 2009, Prof Djokić founded an inter-disciplinary Centre for the Study of the Balkans at Goldsmiths and, with a group of historians from other institutions, 'Rethinking Modern Europe', an Institute of Historical Research seminar. In July 2014, Prof Djokić's was awarded Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers by Germany's Humboldt Foundation.
Monographs and publications
Prof Djokić's publications include two monographs and four edited volumes. Prof Djokić's first monograph, Elusive Compromise (2007), is concerned with the Serb-Croat 'question' in interwar Yugoslavia, and is based on his doctoral and postdoctoral research in Croatian, Serbian, UK and US archives. Most scholars approach the subject through the ethnic conflict framework, but Prof Djokić argues that the period can be best understood through an analysis of attempts to reach a compromise, and when placed in the context of a European-wide struggle between centralism and federalism and between democracy and dictatorship.
'Key scholars have posited that failure was in the DNA of the first Yugoslavia – born of the First World War, destroyed by the Second – but Djokić argues that interwar Yugoslavia was not doomed by conflicting Croatian and Serbian national ideologies. Failure came rather from the inability of politicians to compromise over the centralization of state power. Hence, the state failed because of political decisions taken or not taken in the flush of events, not because of primordial forces. Djokić does not ultimately prove the counterfactual that the Yugoslav idea could have been saved, but he gives it plausibility.' (Foreign Affairs, March/April 2008)
'Elusive Compromise is an original and provocative study of a key episode in Yugoslavia's history — controversial, but essential reading on the topic from now on.' (Canadian Journal of History, 44:2, 2009)
'Dejan Djokić is to be commended for having produced an excellently researched and very well-written book. He has avoided nationalist clichés and a strongly partisan tone and presented the reader with new interpretations of original source material. As such, the book contrasts markedly with much of the writing about the former Yugoslavia since the 1990s.' (European History Quarterly, 40:2, 2010).
'Elusive Compromise is one of the best books that is available on the monarchist Yugoslavia' (Časopis za suvremenu povijest [Journal of Contemporary History, Croatia], no. 1, 2010).
Pašić and Trumbić
Prof Djokić's second monograph Pašić and Trumbić (2010) is in some ways a spin-off of the first monograph. It analyses the Serb-Croat 'question' through the relationship between the leading Serb and the leading Croat politician during Yugoslavia's formative period and its international debut at the Paris Peace Conference. By combining diplomatic/political history with biography, Prof Djokić approaches the subject from an original angle and challenge post-factum interpretations of Yugoslavia as doomed-from-the-start state.
‘Readers interested in Balkan history, the fallout of the [Paris] Peace Conference, and the origins of Yugoslavia will be delighted […] What could be a convoluted, nitpicky story is instead comprehensive and clear, interpreted by a master scholar.’ (ForeWord Reviews, 4 September 2010)
‘The book offers a sober and insightful description of the immense task that awaited the Yugoslav delegation and useful short biographies of Pašić and Trumbić. Yet, Djokić’s book is not just about this, [but also] about the Yugoslav idea and its development in early twentieth century’ (Austrian History Yearbook, vol. XLII, 2011).
'The traditional view of diplomatic history as dry and inaccessible cannot be applied in this case. In addition to never becoming aberrant, Djokić’s work remains lucid from beginning to end and is thus highly recommendable both for students and researchers unfamiliar with the Balkans or the interwar period... Djokić should be congratulated for drawing attention to a much neglected area of study that has unfairly come to be defined through more recent historical events, and for moving the debate forward.' (European History Quarterly, 43:3, 2013).
The volumes Prof Djokić has edited (and contributed to) include two multi-disciplinary books exploring the idea(s) of Yugoslavia throughout the twentieth century (Yugoslavism, 2003) and the latest research on some of the key themes in the modern South Slav history and politics (New Perspectives on Yugoslavia, 2011, co-edited with James Ker-Lindsay). Both books have received favourable reviews, while the former has become a standard text in the field.
Prof Djokić has also guest-edited a special issue of European History Quarterly (36:3, 2006) on the Labour Party and European Left, which includes his article on the early British responses to Milovan Djilas' dissent and his conflict with President Tito of Yugoslavia. In 2013, Prof Djokić edited a collection of articles (Nesentimentalni idealisti) which originally appeared in a journal published by émigré Serbian democrats in Paris and London during the Cold War. In addition to some 400 articles, the book includes my own introductory study (17,000 words) and explanatory footnotes.
Prof Djokić is currently working on a third monograph, A Concise History of Serbia, under contract with Cambridge University Press.