I first visited Budapest soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Everything about the city fascinated me: the elegant but dilapidated buildings (some still bullet-ridden from 1956), the lively open-air markets, and the rattling yellow trolleys. I have since returned many times to Budapest and the surrounding region. Along the way I went to graduate school in history at Columbia University and now teach at Colgate University.
At Colgate I offer courses in European and global history. These include The First World War
, Germany and Eastern Europe, 1848-1989
, and History of the Modern Balkans
. I also teach a course on commodities titled Coffee and Cigarettes: A Global History
. I recently took students enrolled in this class to Costa Rica as part of Colgate’s Sophomore Residential Seminars
program. I also serve as the faculty director of the Alumni Memorial Scholars
Please contact me if you would like to see my syllabi.
My research and writing focus on Central and Eastern Europe. Much of my work looks at how ordinary people enter the political process in places with decidedly undemocratic political systems. My first book, The Once and Future Budapest
(Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), examined everything from shop signs to synagogue architecture to understand how nationalist debates reached large numbers of men and women in the first part of the nineteenth century.
My interests then shifted to the years around 1900 and to the Hungarian provinces – to what is today Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. In a series of journal articles and book chapters I examined major historical events from the vantage point of Hungary’s small towns and villages, where the bulk of the population lived. This led to Sites of European Antisemitism in the Age of Mass Politics, 1880-1918
(Brandeis University Press, 2014), which I co-edited with Daniel Unowsky and to which I contributed a chapter on Jewish refugees in Hungary during the First World War.
It also led to Another Hungary: The Nineteenth-Century Provinces in Eight Lives
, which recently appeared with Stanford University Press. Another Hungary
is a “collective biography,” which uses the stories of eight men and women to consider how people made sense of economic underdevelopment, what nationalism meant on the ground, and how Jews and Christians interacted in the countryside.
My next book project will use three commodities – tobacco, wine, and coffee – to study how everyday goods created surprising connections among the different peoples of Habsburg Central Europe. It will also explore what can be gained by viewing the history of globalization from places like Austria-Hungary, which are too often overlooked.
Some of my publications can be found at my Academia.edu