Synopses & Reviews
"Changing Places is an interesting meditation on the varying identities and rights claimed by residents of borderlands, the limits placed on the capacities of nation-states to police their borders and enforce national identities, and the persistence of such contact zones in the past and present. It is an extremely well-written and engaging study, and an absolute pleasure to read."
---Dennis Sweeney, University of Alberta
"Changing Places offers a brilliantly transnational approach to its subject, the kind that historians perennially demand of themselves but almost never accomplish in practice."
---Pieter M. Judson, Swarthmore College
Changing Places is a transnational history of the birth, life, and death of a modern borderland and of frontier peoples' changing relationships to nations, states, and territorial belonging. The cross-border region between Germany and Habsburg Austria---and after 1918 between Germany and Czechoslovakia---became an international showcase for modern state building, nationalist agitation, and local pragmatism after World War I, in the 1930s, and again after 1945.
Caitlin Murdock uses wide-ranging archival and published sources from Germany and the Czech Republic to tell a truly transnational story of how state, regional, and local historical actors created, and eventually destroyed, a cross-border region. Changing Places demonstrates the persistence of national fluidity, ambiguity, and ambivalence in Germany long after unification and even under fascism. It shows how the 1938 Nazi annexation of the Czechoslovak "Sudetenland" became imaginable to local actors and political leaders alike. At the same time, it illustrates that the Czech-German nationalist conflict and Hitler's Anschluss are only a small part of the larger, more complex borderland story that continues to shape local identities and international politics today.
Caitlin E. Murdock is Associate Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach.
Jacket Credit: Cover art courtesy of the author
"…a pioneering piece of research…an impressive and fascinating read."
—Milos Reznik, Slavic Review
Peter Thaler - Austrian History Yearbook
"[Caitlin Murdock] makes a valuable contribution to the history of state—society relations…."
—Cathleen M. Giustino, Social History
Milos Reznik - Slavic Review
"Caitlin E. Murdock's book is a significant contribution to the growing literature on frontiers in European history. Her impressive research in both German and Czech archives allows her to write a book that is simultaneously transnational and regional, using the history of the Saxo-Bohemian borderlands to challenge the centrality of the nation-state in the history of Central Europe."
—Annemarie Sammartino, The American Historical Review
Cathleen M. Giustino - Social History
“Murdock has written a bold and thoughtful book that only a handful of historians could write. Crossing borders and combining historiographies has led to an important work that should find a wide audience among historians of Saxony, Germany, Bohemia, the Habsburg monarchy, and Czechoslovakia-not to mention the growing legion of scholars who simply prefer to be called historians of Central Europe.”
—Chad Bryant, Habsburg (H-Net)
James Bjork - Journal of Modern History
"[Murdock] challenges the notions of national essentialism and of the significance of frontiers, noting that southern Saxony and northern Bohemia developed as an integrated economic and cultural region as a result of industrialization, increased labor mobility, and mass communications...Murdock presents residents of the borderlands, whether Saxons, Czechs, or Sudeten Germans, as active protagonists in the making and unmaking of local and national identities, and argues that events in the borderlands often forced the hand of governments."
and#8212;Choice, D A Harvey, New College of Florida
adds an interesting and well-researched empirical study of northwestern Bohemia, which nicely supplements previous investigations of localities in the south of the province.andnbsp; It makes a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on Bohemia's borders and identities."
and#8212;Austrian History Yearbook, Peter Thaler, Univ. of Southern Denmark
"By offering an in-depth and dynamic portrayal of borderland life, Murdock provides a compelling version of Central Europe's past that differs greatly from ones that focus exclusively on nations and heads of state."
—David Gerlach, German Studies Review
Chad Bryant - H-Net Reviews
"...Murdock's book provides excellent insights into life along the Saxon-Bohemian frontier from the late nineteenth century through the interwar period. It is a welcome addition to the scholarship on borderlands and will be an essential point of reference for future contributions to the field."
—James Bjork, Journal of Modern History
David Gerlach - German Studies Review
"and#8230;a pioneering piece of researchand#8230;an impressive and fascinating read."
and#8212;Milos Reznik, Slavic Review
An intriguing study of a fluid cross-border area over several decades
The elements of colonial relationships were easily adapted to address the border between Western and Eastern Europe
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, representations of Poland and the Slavic East cast the region as a primitive, undeveloped, or empty space inhabited by a population destined to remain uncivilized without the aid of external intervention. These depictions often made direct reference to the American Wild West, portraying the eastern steppes as a boundless plain that needed to be wrested from the hands of unruly natives and spatially ordered into German-administrated units.and#160;
While conventional definitions locate colonial space overseas, Kristin Kopp argues that it was possible to understand both distant continents and adjacent Eastern Europe as parts of the same global periphery dependent upon Western European civilizing efforts. However, proximity to the source of aid translated to greater benefits for Eastern Europe than for more distant regions.
About the Author
Kristin Kopp is Associate Professor of German and Director of Graduate Studies in German at the University of Missouri.