So far my research has focused on the popular—even populist—appeal of ideologies such as nationalism and socialism. Why did nationalism seem attractive to industrial workers who considered themselves to be socialists? How did social revolution appeal to conservative-minded peasants? Such questions are important for understanding modern central and eastern Europe, my geographic area of focus, but are also relevant to other parts of the world. I have explored these questions primarily through cultural history, looking at the shifting meanings and perceptions that framed political views and actions. I am also increasingly interested in how the experience of war opened new political and cultural horizons for ordinary people.
My first book, Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890-1918 (Oxford University Press, 2017) looks at the culture of the Habsburg Austrian workers’ movement in Prague, Vienna, Brno and elsewhere and how it evolved alongside the democratization of elections and during the First World War. It received the 2017 Barbara Jelavich Prize from the Association of Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies as well as the 2016 George Blazyca Prize (awarded 2018) from the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies. The book forms part of my broader interest in the history of socialism, which I am pursuing with a chapter for the new Cambridge History of the Habsburg Monarchy and a recent co-edited interdisciplinary volume called Socialist Imaginations: Utopias, Myths and the Masses (Routledge 2018).
My current research project is focused on rural unrest during the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 and how this forgotten episode reverberated in east central European society and culture through 1945. At the center of this inquiry is a loose movement of army deserters and radical peasants called ‘Green Cadres’ that existed across the region, but possessed no conventional political representation. I have published my initial findings in articles in Past & Present and Contemporary European History (forthcoming). My article in Past & Present, ‘The Green Cadres and the Collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918’ won the 2018 Stanley Z. Pech Prize from the Czechoslovak Studies Association.