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.
"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
Jacket Credit: Cover art courtesy of the author
"[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."
—Choice, D A Harvey, New College of Florida
"…a pioneering piece of research…an impressive and fascinating read."
—Milos Reznik, Slavic Review
"[Caitlin Murdock] makes a valuable contribution to the history of state—society relations…."
—Cathleen M. Giustino, Social History
"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
"…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, H-Net Reviews