John Bulaitis specialises in twentieth century European history, with a particular interest in twentieth-century France. He also has expertise in the 'two political extremes' of twentieth century politics - communism and fascism.
He has taught at Canterbury Christ Church since 2009. Previously, John held posts at University Campus Suffolk and the University of Essex. He has also taught history at Queen Mary (University of London), Royal Holloway, Birkbeck College and the Open University. He taught French translation at London South Bank University. He has also worked in Widening Participation, organising outreach work in schools and colleges at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Research and knowledge exchange
John has recently published a biography of French communist leader, Maurice Thorez. John Bulaitis, Maurice Thorez: A Biography (London: IB Tauris, 2018).
He is currently writing a book on the 'curious rural revolt' in England and Wales during the 1930s known as The Tithe War. You can read a report on some of the research here: https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/kenthistory/rescuing-ducks-and-liberating-sows-the-kentish-tithe-war/
Reviews of Maurice Thorez: A Biography
‘John Bulaitis’s stylishly written biography of Maurice Thorez will long remain a model of carefully crafted and judicious scholarship; an example of what dispassionate yet critical post-communist historiography can achieve. While the author does not hesitate to take issue with established French scholars, he avoids erecting a kind of tribunal where the biographer is judge and jury. Every deed (and misdeed) of the communist leader is situated in its proper historical context on the basis of an intimate knowledge of the archival sources. Thorez emerges as a complex figure, a leader who tried, often unsuccessfully, to balance political pragmatism with loyalty to the communist movement –a far more interesting character than the traditional depiction of him as a mere Stalinist hack’ – Donald Sassoon, Emeritus Professor of Comparative European History, Queen Mary, University of London.
‘An English-language biography of Maurice Thorez has long been needed. John Bulaitis has delivered a peerless study, guaranteed to become the definitive account of Thorez's life for some time to come.’– Matthew Worley, Professor of Modern History, University of Reading
‘This is a beautifully crafted biography and political history based on solid research and an obvious command of the secondary sources. A biography of Thorez in English is long overdue and with it John Bulaitis has made an exemplary contribution to the historiography of European communism.’ – Kevin Morgan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History, University of Manchester
Teaching and subject expertise
John teaches and coordinates the first-year module, Making of Modernity.
He also teaches
- Fascism in the Twentieth Century
- Terror, Consent and Resistance in Nazi Germany
John is interested in the pedagogy of history at university level. He jointly led, along with Dr Paul Dalton and Dr Amanda Flather (University of Essex), a research and knowledge exchange project on the challenges posed for students, teachers and academics by the transition from pre-university to university education. The project, Bridges to History and Employment, was supported by funding from the Higher Education Academy.
John is a trustee of the Agricultural Museum, Brook. http://www.agriculturalmuseumbrook.org.uk/
He is Chairperson of Shepherdswell and Coldred History Society. http://shepherdswellhistory.org/
Recent Conference/Seminar Papers
November 2018 Institute of Historical Research, Modern French History Seminar, Paper: Maurice Thorez in the Biographical Matrix.
November 2018 15th Annual Historical Materialism Conference, SOAS, Paper: Maurice Thorez: Anti-fascism, Populist Naitonalism and Cultism.
June 2017. Centre for Kent History and Heritage (CKHH). Conference on ‘Tithe through the Ages: The Historian’s View’. Paper: Kentish tithe rebellions in modern times.
June 2016 Centre for Kent History and Heritage (CKHH). Conference on ‘Richborough through the Ages’. Paper: Farmer, entrepreneur, historian, fascist: GC Solley of King’s End Farm, Richborough.
April 2014. European Social Science History Conference, Vienna, Austria. Paper: The Tithe War in Kent 1925-36: an Example of English Militant Agrarianism.
December 2013 ‘Maurice Thorez in the Biographical Matrix’ Conference on Communism & the Leader Cult: National & Transnational Perspectives at University of Manchester.
Recent Public Lectures.
September 2019 Shepherdswell & Coldred History Society, 'The Tithe War at West Court Farm',.
May 2018 Kent Family History Society, Canterbury Branch: Kentish tithe rebellions in modern times.
February 2018 Blean, Hackington and Tyler Hill Society: ‘Frank Richard Allen (1877-1961), National Secretary of the National Tithepayers’ Association’
October 2017. Sandwich Local History Society: ‘The Curious Rural Revolt’: Kentish tithe wars in the 1930s.
September 2017. National Farmers’ Union, Elham and Swingfield branch, Ladies Section: Tithe War in the Elham Valley, 1931-36
February 2017. The Gravesend Historical Society: ‘The Curious Rural Revolt’ – Kentish Tithe Wars in the 1930s.
October 2016. Elham Historical Society: The Tithe War in the Elham Valley 1931-1936.
March 2016. Lyminge Historical Society: The Tithe War in the Elham Valley 1931-1936.
February 2016. Charing & District Local History Society. ‘The Curious Rural Revolt’: Kentish tithe wars in the 1930s
November 2015. Whitstable History Society:‘The Curious Rural Revolt’ – Kentish Tithe Wars in the 1930s
October 2015. Nightingale Memorial Lecture, Agricultural Museum Brook: ‘The Battle of the Ducks’ and other episodes from the ‘Kentish Tithe Wars’, 1930–36’. https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/kenthistory/rescuing-ducks-and-liberating-sows-the-kentish-tithe-war/
March 2015. Ashford Archaeological and History Society: ‘The Curious Rural Revolt’ – Kentish Tithe Wars in the 1930s
December 2014. Shepherdswell History Society: ‘The Battle of the Ducks’: West Court Farm and the Tithe War (1934)
May 2014. Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone: ‘The Curious Rural Revolt’: Kentish tithe wars in the 1930s.
March 2014. Folkestone Town Council, Heritage Talk: Tithe Wars of Kent.
TV and Media
August 2014 Interviewed on BBC documentary 'Sunshine Corner' on the history of the Kent coalfield. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04dzkzw
Publications and research outputs
John's first book was: Communism in Rural France: French Agricultural Workers and the Popular Front (London: IB Tauris, 2008).
Recent articles and book reviews:
August 2017. Gavin Bowd, The Last Communard: Adrien Lejeune, the Unexpected Life of a Revolutionary. H-France Vol. 17 No. 139 http://www.h-france.net/vol17reviews/vol17no139bulaitis.pdf
Autumn 2015. Emmanuel Bellanger & Julian Mischi (eds), Les territoires du communisme: Élus locaux, politiques publiques et sociabilités militantes Jean Vigreux, La faucille après le manteau: Le Communisme aux champs dans l’entre-deux-guerres, Twentieth Century Communism Issue 9, Lawrence & Wishart 2015 166-171 9781910448533
John Bulaitis (2013) ‘Le Syndicat libre dans la profession organisée’: Rural Social Catholicism during the Popular Front, 1936–38, Modern & Contemporary France, 21:4,493-515, DOI: 10.1080/09639489.2013.823390 To link to this article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09639489.2013.823390