2011 Shannon Prize Lecture


Location: Andrews Auditorium, Geddes Hall

Tara Zahra (University of Chicago) will present the 2011 Shannon Prize Lecture entitled "The Battle for Children: Displacement, Humanitarianism, and Ethnic Cleansing in 20th Century Europe."

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 (Cornell University Press) explores Czech-German relations in the first half of the twentieth century to address from a fresh archival angle larger questions about national identification, indifference, and the use of constituencies for national agendas.

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. 

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Tara Zahra is professor of East European 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 was released in 2011 by Harvard University Press.

The 2011 award ceremony can be seen below: