Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands 1900-1948

Kidnapped Souls by Tara Zahra

2011 Prize in the History & the Social Sciences

by Tara Zahra
Publisher: Cornell University Press (2008)

Jury Statement

A work of extraordinary scholarly creativity and excavation, Tara Zahra’s Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands 1900-1948, explores Czech-German relations in the first half of the twentieth century to address larger questions about national identification, indifference, and appropriation of constituencies for national agendas from a fresh archival angle. Working deeply in multiple national archives, Zahra examines policies toward children and schooling in a border region of Bohemia in which partisans of Czech and German identity competed for allegiance. Without ever losing sight of big questions or Hauptpolitik, Zahra enlivens every page with vivid detail and takes us into ordinary lives to show not that national identity is merely a matter of cultural and political circumstance, but that particular circumstances cause claims on identity to work in different ways. A model monograph, with interesting lessons for the future of multilingualism in European educational systems.

About the Author

Tara Zahra is a Professor of History at the University of Chicago, where she has been teaching the history of Modern Central and Eastern Europe since 2007. Her research focuses on transnational approaches to the history of Modern Europe. She aims to challenge nationalist approaches to European history, and to integrate the history of Eastern Europe into broader histories of Europe and the world. Recent work has focused on the history of nationalism, the family, displacement, and international humanitarianism in the twentieth century. Before coming to Chicago, she was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, and completed her Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan. Her next book, The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II is forthcoming in 2011.


Honorable Mention

1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe
Author: Mary Elise Sarotte
Publisher: Princeton University Press (2009)


2011 Jury

Nancy Bermeo
Nuffield Professor of Comparative Politics, Nuffield College
University of Oxford

Felipe Fernández-Armesto
William P. Reynolds Professor of History
University of Notre Dame

Laura Engelstein
Henry S. McNeil Professor of History
Yale University

James Sheehan
Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus
Stanford University

Catherine H. Zuckert
Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame