Pieter M. Judson: Lessons from the 19th-century Frontier: Toward a Transnational History of Central Europe

Open to the Public
Nador u. 11
Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 5:30pm
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Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm

"Lessons from the 19th-century Frontier: Toward a

Transnational History of Central Europe"

a public lecture by

PIETER M. JUDSON - Swarthmore College (USA)

Today a strongly nationalist view of the world continues to dominate the ways that we write the history of multi-lingual regions of Europe in both obvious and subtle ways. The power of the nationalist way of thinking results in part from our own inability to see the human work that produced it. Thus the modern nation appears to be the most normal and natural element of our political universe. My lecture examines the daily labor of building national communities in rural language-frontier regions of Imperial Austria, and the different outcomes this work produced. In particular I investigate the ways in which nationalists often failed to build the kinds of national communities they hoped to create. These critical failures have remained largely invisible in histories of Habsburg Central Europe, yet increasing numbers of local studies confirm this paradox. How are we to understand the apparent rise of intransigent nationalism in public life with nationalism’s apparent failure to win local converts? My larger purpose is to offer some ideas about how we historians might approach Central and Eastern Europe in non-national or trans-national ways.

Pieter M. Judson is Professor of History at Swarthmore College, Editor of the Austrian History Yearbook, and currently a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2010 the Austrian government awarded him the Karl von Vogelsang state prize for his book Guardians of the Nation: Activists on the Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria (Harvard 2006). Other books include Exclusive Revolutionaries. Liberal Politics, Social Experience and National Identity in the Austrian Empire 1848-1914 (University of Michigan, 1996), winner of the Adams prize of the American Historical Association; Wien Brennt! Die Revolution von 1848 und ihr liberales Erbe (Böhlau, 1998); and a coedited volume Constructing Nationalities in East Central Europe (Berghahn, 2005). Judson is a recipient of fellowships from the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Internationales Forschungszentrum für Kulturwissenschaften, the Marshall Foundation, and Fulbright.