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Frederique Visser MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: European History, Heritage Studies, War & Conflict

Cohort/Start PhD: 2021-2022

Rhythms and Rupture: Everyday Life in Three Towns in Habsburg Central Europe, 1890-1930


Leiden University

Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Jeroen Duindam & dr. Eric Storm

Aanstelling: September 2020


The end of the First World War signalled the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The multi-ethnic state collapsed and was divided into several successor states. Because of the many political implications of this collapse – as well as that of other European empires – historians have regarded 1918 as a watershed moment in history. Despite the apparent logic of this chronological-historical division, it has obscured the many ways in which life in Central Europe remained the same after 1918.

This research examines the new perspective on Habsburg continuity through a transregional comparison of three localities and analyses the everyday life of these communities by exploring how territorial identities take form. The German-speaking communities of three former Habsburg towns, Bolzano/Bozen, Budějovice/Budweis, and Linz, found themselves in new nation-states, respectively Italy, Czechoslovakia and Austria. These states took diverging political paths during the interwar era. The project explores how ordinary people experienced these (inter)national changes and the extent to which they retained familiar routines and practices in their everyday lives. How did such routines reflect identifications with city, region, and the overarching level of the nation/empire? Did these overlapping layers of territorial identification form a stabilising factor in the transitional period from empire to nation-state?

My focus on local and everyday perspectives reassesses ruptures and continuities in collective identities in Habsburg successor states. Ultimately, this study contributes to a better understanding of the history and perceptions of Central and Eastern Europe in which 1918 is not approached as a watershed moment.