A conversation between Mark Mazower and Sanjay Subrahmanyam

Mark Mazower is Ira D. Wallach Professor of History at Columbia University in New York. Widely recognised as one of the finest historians of his generation, Professor Mazower studied at Oxford and Johns Hopkins, completing his D. Phil in Oxford in 1988. He has taught at Princeton, Sussex, and London University. His chief works include No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (2009); Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe (2008); Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims, and Jews, 1430-1950 (2004); Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (1998); and Inside Hitler’s Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44 (1993), several of which have won major prizes. His most recent book is Governing the World: The History of an Idea (2012). He is a specialist of Greece, the Balkans, and more generally of the history of Europe in the twentieth century. Prof. Mazower will deliver the Sixth [Indian Economic and Social History Review] IESHR Annual Lecture in New Delhi on December 11, 2012. Here, he responds to questions from Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Professor of History at UCLA.

Even though you have ranged far and wide over the years, Greece and the Balkans are at the heart of a lot of what you have written. How does a Londoner like you come to have such a strong affinity with that part of the world? Was it because of family? Or just travel?

I have to confess that I don’t really know. I think that it was at first because it felt very different from London, and then turned out -- a bit like London -- to have a history that spoke to me. I travelled south in Europe first in my gap year – I took a train through Italy, then over to Greece and Yugoslavia, and the Mediterranean landscape made an immediate impression on me. It touches me still: I find it stunningly beautiful every time I am there. I then went more to Greece because I studied classics and made some good friends there, and then started learning modern Greek in Thessaloniki one summer, mainly because the alternative, which I really wanted to do then, namely to learn Romanian in Cluj, was over-booked. (I’ve still to get round to Romanian.) I think the differences from England were really what attracted me; England and the Mediterranean as complements ….

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