This project aims to unveil and evaluate certain patterns of behavior during an era of mass violence by offering a transnational approach on the mechanisms of violence and ethnic cleansing during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 in the regions of Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace. The broader goal of this study is to incorporate these conflicts into the broader discussion about the 'Greater War' (1912-1923) which challenges the western Eurocentric dominance of historiography about WWI. My overall argument is that in order to deepen our understanding on what transpired in the borderlands of the Eastern Front during the First World War and afterwards we should take a look at the Balkans by comparing similarities and differences. Throughout my thesis I will try to show that ethnic cleansing is not a straightforward process and the intensity of violence depends on multiple factors such as: the affiliations of the locals, the pre-war relations of neighboring ethnic groups, the plans of the military authorities, the goals of the belligerent states and the recent historical experience. In contrast to an existing literature on the political, diplomatic, and military history of the Balkan Wars, the story I tell deals with what transpired behind the front lines. By analyzing in a transnational context the social and cultural conditions though the eyes of numerous participants I aim to offer a more nuanced picture of the fluidity and complexity of what materialized in the local level, in rural as well as urban areas. The way of doing that is by looking at the interaction of the regular army with the locals and irregulars and how the experience of war functioned as a «contact zone» generating an «undeclared war in the sidelines». By shedding new light to this «undeclared war» I hope that I will contribute to the better understanding of the mechanisms of violence and ethnic cleansing in general and the historical circumstances that shaped it in the Balkan Peninsula in particular.
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Thesis advisor: Doxiadis, Evdoxios
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