- Religion and Violence
- Global History
- Everyday Life, Emotions and the Senses
My first book, Catholicism and the Great War: Religion and Everyday Life in Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1922, is a transnational, comparative study that challenges elite, state-centred instrumentalist readings of religion. Through extensive archival research in Central Europe, including the Vatican Archives, I portray an everyday history of Catholic believers beyond the pope, bishops, and clergy—thus, a family history that includes soldiers as well as women and children. Challenging a religious history of “chosen people” nationalism dominated by Protestant Prussia, I argue that Catholics in the losing powers used their faith to cope with the war’s horrors much better than standard cultural narratives of secularization and literary modernism would have us believe.
My other publications include articles in the peer-reviewed digital encyclopaedia 1914-1918-Online http://www.1914-1918-online.net/index.html as well as book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Central European History and First World War Studies.
Since 2016, I am a member of the “Global Religions” section of Oxford’s “Globalising and Localising the Great War” project, funded by the AHRC. I am researching a book monograph that is a global history of the Catholic Church in the First World War. Putting the global with the local, this new book is a transnational study that challenges standard accounts dominated by elite actors, nation-state frameworks, and the chronology of 1914-1918. I put European and US religious developments in dialogue with the Global South.
This project incorporates archival research across the globe, including the Archivio Segreto Vaticano. I am interested in representing beliefs of global religious communities beyond the standard depictions of the clerical hierarchy, though keeping the clergy’s agency firmly in mind. My work draws on theories from the history of everyday life as well as more recent developments in the history of emotions and the senses.
I have given invited talks including keynote lectures at various forums around the world including the Institute for Religion and Peace (Vienna), the National Endowment for the Humanities (Cincinnati, USA), the National World War I Museum (Kansas City, USA), and the Kandersteg Seminar of the Remarque Institute at NYU (Switzerland).
I am happy to be contacted about my scholarly interests, both for research collaborations as well as public media events that are of central importance during the centenary anniversary reflections on the First World War and its modern legacies.
Globalising and Localising the Great War, research cluster