Danijel Matijevic is a doctoral candidate in History and Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, focusing on modern East-Central European history and history of mass violence and genocide under the mentorship of Dr. Doris L. Bergen and Dr. Piotr Wróbel. Matijevic’s dissertation aims at a social history of mass violence in Southeastern Europe during the Second World War and the Holocaust, as well as the immediate postwar period; his project is constructed around a microhistory focusing on the District of Vukovar in eastern Croatia, a highly diverse area before World War II, inhabited by Croats, Serbs, Jews, Germans, Roma, Hungarians, and others.
The towns and villages of Vukovar District were marked by intergroup violence, but with different timing and intensity, which depended on ethno-religious composition, prewar politics, logistical concerns, as well as local social contexts. Matijevic’s project investigates these variables, focusing on social and political mechanisms that propel peaceful neighbors into bigotry and divide local communities into “us” and “them;” he is interested in the intersection between established intergroup relations in the local community on the one hand and regime agendas of mass violence and genocide on the other. Matijevic’s approach explores the difference between “violence as an outcome” and “violence as a process,” key concepts that have not yet received adequate scholarly attention. His project will make a much-needed contribution to the study of the Holocaust in a geographic area that remains peripheral in terms of scholarship, but that certainly was not peripheral in terms of the destruction of the Jews and broader campaigns of genocide during this era. By stretching his focus beyond traditional periodizations, Matijevic’s study will contribute to our understanding of the way the anti-Jewish violence and mass violence campaigns against other groups in Croatia “cross-pollinated” during this era, in terms of both ideology and practice.
Matijevic received a B.A. in Philosophy and History from the University of Vermont, and an M.A. in History from McGill University. Before starting his doctoral studies in 2014, he taught history at Champlain College St-Lambert, and has held a lectureship at McGill University’s Department of Jewish Studies until January 2019. Matijevic has presented his research to a wide range of international audiences at academic conferences and classrooms in Canada, the United States, Cambodia, Croatia, and most recently at the 2019 Special Lessons and Legacies Conference in Germany. His doctoral project received support from multiple sources, including Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (as Vanier Scholar), and the Holocaust Education Foundation.