Interview with Pieter Judson--May 15, 2017
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Judson, Pieter; Case, Holly
Interview with Pieter Judson, Professor of 19th and 20th-Century History and Head of the History Department at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. The interview was conducted in Florence on May 15, 2017. Pieter completed his BA at Swarthmore and his PhD at Columbia. He began teaching at Pitzer College from 1988-1992, and then returned to Swarthmore as a professor from 1993 to 2014, where from 2011 to 2014 he was Isaac H. Clothier Professor of History and International Relations. He has received numerous awards and distinctions, among them Guggenheim and NEH fellowships, and a number of distinguished prizes for his books, as well as for his teaching. His books include: Exclusive Revolutionaries: Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire, 1848-1914 (published by Michigan in 1996), and which won two prizes; Guardians of the Nation. Activists on the Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria, published by Harvard in 2006, which won three prizes; and The Habsburg Empire, A New History, published in 2016 by Harvard. In addition to his stellar scholarly reputation, Judson is also famous as a teacher and mentor to many in the field and beyond. Special thanks to Máté Rigó for preparing an inventory of the interview.
Interview Themes 01:00 Introduction 02:00 First contact with East-Central Europe; early interest in history; the Netherlands; Smith College; 03:30 Road trip from Amsterdam to Istanbul in 1970, Vienna, Budapest, Transylvania, Bucharest, Bulgaria, Istanbul 06:30 Interest in maps, geography, history, politics 08:00 J.F. Kennedy, 1964 presidential campaign, East Germany, Hungary and first political memories 09:00 Eastern Europe, border crossings 10:00 Willy Brandt election 10:30 Swarthmore College, the 1970s 12:00 North Hampton, MA; parents professors at Smith College 12:30 “Hard time” to be a college student in the mid-1970s; discouragement of political action the Quaker traditions 14:30 Inspiration to study German; Exchange student at the University of Munich, 1976-1977 16:30 Helmuth Schmitt’s reelection campaign; 17:00 Attraction to politics 17:20 Fascination by the role of ideology in 1970s German politics vs pragmatic US politics 18:00 1972, Mc+++ campaign, junior youth delegate 19:00 The disappointment with the lack of political change in the 1970s 20:00 Nineteenth-century politics 21:00 AIDS crisis ignored by politicians 21:40 War in Bosnia 24:00 Second book and arguments against nationalist politics 26:00 Cultures of nationalism and liberal politics 28:00 Reading nationalist sources against the grain 29:00 National indifference 30:30 Habsburg administration as umpire among political parties 33:00 Divergent views on nationalism in historiography (i) nationalism is not always problematic (ii) “not everyone is national” 36:00 Nationalism radically different in 1830s, 1870s, 1930s 36:30 Timothy Snyder on nationalism, Prometheanism 38:00 Interwar period as validating the idea of nation-state 38:30 The Reconstruction of Nations 39:30 The disappearance of empires as primary target of nationalist mobilization 40:00 Nation and empire are not mutually exclusive and mutually produce each other 42:00 Italy and Hungary as exceptions where the Habsburg empire emerges as major opposition 45:00 Changes in the historical profession; Cold War generation of historians tried to explain why Eastern Europe was a problem in terms of imperial exploitation; consensus on backwardness 47:00 The expansion of East European studies, generation of historians coming of age around 1989 49:00 Katherine Verdery 50:00 Graduate studies at Columbia University, István Deák, Eugene Weber, Robert Paxton 51:00 Research on Habsburg Monarchy, learning of Czech 53:00 Morals and historians, Jan Gross, Norman Naimark, Timothy Snyder, István Deák 55:00 Identity politics in academia 57:00 1990s and the return of nationalism 59:00 Moral statements and judgements by historians 1:00:00 Identity politics, 1970s, 2000s as an era of possibilities, Obama presidency, financial crisis 1:02:00 Habsburg Empire – A New History and its current context; Habsburg Empire and the EU? 1:03:00 The military dictatorship during WWI in the Monarchy 1:06:00 Graduate training at the EUI; the mission of the EU and how Europeans are oblivious of it 1:09:00 The iron curtain the “wall” in Berlin 1:11:00 Different generations of historians of East-Central Europe 1:14:00 The Cambridge history of the Habsburg Empire project, 23 historians from multiple states, Mark Cornwall 1:15:00 Caitlin Murdoch 1:16:00 Teaching methodology, passion for history and narratives 1:21:00 Teaching at Swarthmore 1:24:00 The value of a liberal arts education 1:27:00 New research on East-Central Europe, regional studies 1:30:00 CEU as critical for the study of East-Central Europe
Habsburg Empire; EUI; national indifference
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