Mark Thompson
  • 3.08 Arts and Humanities Building

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Personal profile


I was born in Sheffield in 1959; studied English Literature at Cambridge (1978-81); worked as an editor, journalist, translator and anti-nuclear activist before publishing my first book, A Paper House. The Ending of Yugoslavia (1992).

I spent most of the 1990s in Croatia as a journalist (freelancing mostly for The Guardian, The New Statesman, and Tribune); a media researcher (Forging War. The Media in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1994 and 1999); a policy analyst for the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR, with c. 44,000 members); a researcher for the Aspen Institute's International Commission on the Balkans, in Berlin; the first political officer for the UN's smallest peacekeeping operation in the field (UNMOP, with c. 30 members), based in Dubrovnik; and then the spokesman and head of media affairs for the mission in Croatia of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), based in Zagreb. 

Subsequently I worked as the first secretary of the Media Task Force at the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe (1999-2000), was the Balkans Program Director for the International Crisis Group (2000-2001), and then a self-employed media development consultant. In 2008, I joined the Media Program (now the Program on Independent Journalism) of the Open Society Foundations. During this time I published the 2nd edition of Forging War; prepared and published Forging Peace, with Monroe Price; published The White War. Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 (winner of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for 2009); and then Birth Certificate. The Story of Danilo Kis (shortlisted for the National Book Critics' Circle award in biography for 2013, and winner of the Jan Michalski Prize for 2015 and the Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies for 2016).

In 2015, I joined the History School as a Reader in Modern History.

Key Research Interests

Current research focuses on the history of Italy during and after the Second World War. I have continuing interests in media history and policy (especially concerning propaganda and related issues), in the First World War, and in the modern history of the Balkans, especially the former Yugoslavia.

Areas of Expertise

Modern Italian history; modern Balkans history; First World War; Second World War; propaganda, media and communications.

Teaching Interests

I am jointly responsible for the module on Propaganda, and contribute to modules on the Age of Extremes, the First World War, Modern Italy, and Yugoslavia.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Social Science, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 5 May 2002

Bachelor of Arts, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jun 1981

External positions

Departmental Staff, Faculty of History, University of Oxford

Oct 2010 → …