The Romantic zeitgeist in post-Cold War international relations and the disintegration of Yugoslavia
The post-Cold War 1990s were pervaded by a popular sense of pessimism and decline. The thesis argues that such sentiments were part of a general mood in international relations towards Romanticism. It examines how this Romantic sensibility affected interpretations of conflict in Yugoslavia, outlines Romantic predictions about post-Cold War conflict, and compares the Romantic view with a structural perspective of Yugoslavia's demise. The thesis uses a variety of methods, including a philosophical exploration of Romanticism in the nineteenth century and the 1990s, a literary analysis of key texts on conflict, an empirical investigation of armed conflict data, and a theoretical treatment of structural factors in conflict. The thesis historicises nineteenth-century Romanticism as a reaction to the uncertainties created by three transformations: political revolution in France, Industrial Revolution in Britain, and cultural revolution in Germany. It then examines Romanticism through five themes-anti-rationalism, pessimism, nostalgia, relativism, and nature. It compares the 1990s and its 'revolutions'-fragmentation and globalization-developing the concept of Postmodern Romanticism within these themes and applies them to trends in 1990s international relations. Further, the thesis examines Romantic interpretations of conflict in the works of Robert Kaplan, Samuel Huntington, and Martin van Creveld, specifically scrutinising their interpretations of conflict in Yugoslavia. It then empirically investigates various Romantic predictions about conflict, providing empirical evidence that these predictions are inaccurate. Building on the empirical analyses that find state creation rather than identity differences an important factor in conflict, the thesis develops an alternative theoretical framework for assessing state stability based on four structural risk factors: colonial legacy, political institutions, economic structure, and demographic shifts, introducing agency through the concepts of exit, voice, and loyalty. The thesis uses this framework to compare Romantic and structural views of conflict in Yugoslavia. Finally, it provides some reflections on 1990s Romanticism and conflict.