Dr Jakub Beneš

Dr Jakub Beneš

Department of History
Lecturer in Modern European History, 1800-1950

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Modern east central Europe, workers’ and peasants’ movements, war and society.


  • PhD, University of California Davis, 2012
  • BA, Middlebury College, 2004


Originally from Oakland, California, I earned a BA in International Studies from Middlebury College, Vermont and then a PhD in European History from the University of California, Davis supervised by professor William W. Hagen. From 2012 to 2015 I held a postdoctoral research fellowship at Birmingham, then taught at Oxford University for two years before returning to Birmingham as a Lecturer in autumn 2017.  



  • First year core: The Making of the Contemporary World
  • Second year option: Nationalism in Modern Europe, 1815-1914
  • Second year core: History in Theory and Practice
  • Second year core: Group Research ‘Culture and Politics in the Habsburg Empire 1867-1918'
  • Third Year option: Visions of Utopia: Socialism around the World 1800-1980


  • Historical Methods (MA)
  • The Making of the World: Themes in Global History (MA)

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising theses on any topics related to my research interests and geographic area of focus.

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


So far my research has focused on the popular—even populist—appeal of ideologies such as nationalism and socialism. Why did nationalism seem attractive to industrial workers who considered themselves to be socialists? How did social revolution appeal to conservative-minded peasants? Such questions are important for understanding modern central and eastern Europe, my geographic area of focus, but are also relevant to other parts of the world. I have explored these questions primarily through cultural history, looking at the shifting meanings and perceptions that framed political views and actions. I am also increasingly interested in how the experience of war opened new political and cultural horizons for ordinary people.

My first book, Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890-1918 (Oxford University Press, 2017) looks at the culture of the Habsburg Austrian workers’ movement in Prague, Vienna, Brno and elsewhere and how it evolved alongside the democratization of elections and during the First World War. It received the 2017 Barbara Jelavich Prize from the Association of Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies as well as the 2016 George Blazyca Prize (awarded 2018) from the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies. The book forms part of my broader interest in the history of socialism, which I am pursuing with a chapter for the new Cambridge History of the Habsburg Monarchy and a recent co-edited interdisciplinary volume called Socialist Imaginations: Utopias, Myths and the Masses (Routledge 2018).

My current research project is focused on rural unrest during the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 and how this forgotten episode reverberated in east central European society and culture through 1945. At the center of this inquiry is a loose movement of army deserters and radical peasants called ‘Green Cadres’ that existed across the region, but possessed no conventional political representation. I have published my initial findings in articles in Past & Present and Contemporary European History (forthcoming). My article in Past & Present, ‘The Green Cadres and the Collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918’ won the 2018 Stanley Z. Pech Prize from the Czechoslovak Studies Association. 



  • Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890-1918 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • Socialist Imaginations: Utopias, Myths and the Masses. Coedited with Stefan Arvidsson and Anja Kirsch (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018) 

Selected articles

  • ‘The colour of hope: The Legacy of the “Green Cadres” and the Problem of Rural Unrest in the First Czechoslovak Republic’ (Forthcoming in Contemporary European History
  • ‘The Green Cadres and the Collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918’, Past & Present 236:1 (August 2017)
  • ‘”Zelené kádry” jako radikální alternativa pro venkov na západním Slovensku a ve středovýchodní  Evropě 1917 – 1920’ [The Green Cadres as a radical alternative for the countryside in western Slovakia and East Central Europe, 1917-1920], Forum Historiae 9:2 (December 2015)
  • ‘Socialist Popular Literature and the Czech-German Split in Austrian Social Democracy, 1890-1914’, Slavic Review 72:2 (Summer 2013)
  • ‘Czech Social Democracy, František Soukup, and the Habsburg Austrian Suffrage Campaign 1897-1907 – Toward a New Understanding of Nationalism in the Workers’ Movements of East Central Europe’,Střed/Centre 4:2 (December 2012)

View all publications in research portal


  • Civil society
  • Popular movements
  • Nationalism
  • Labour politics
  • Urban-rural divides