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U.S.-Habsburg Relations from 1815 to the Paris Peace Conference
Sovereignty Transformed


  • Date Published: August 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107546349

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About the Authors
  • This study provides the first book-length account of US-Habsburg relations from their origins in the early nineteenth century through the aftermath of World War I and the Paris Peace Conference. By including not only high-level diplomacy but also an analysis of diplomats' ceremonial and social activities, as well as an exploration of consular efforts to determine the citizenship status of thousands of individuals who migrated between the two countries, Nicole M. Phelps demonstrates the influence of the Habsburg government on the integration of the United States into the nineteenth-century great power system and the influence of American racial politics on the Habsburg empire's conceptions of nationalism and democracy. In the crisis of World War I, the US-Habsburg relationship transformed international politics from a system in which territorial sovereignty protected diversity to one in which nation-states based on racial categories were considered ideal.

    • Takes the ceremonial activities, social activities and administrative work of consuls seriously, prompting a rethinking of the importance of these frequently dismissed activities in international relations
    • Combines a study of high politics with an account of the role of everyday people in shaping international relations, the operation of state, and definitions of sovereignty and identity
    • Demonstrates the involvement of the US in international affairs prior to WWI, countering the traditional narrative of isolation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a bilateral history that goes way beyond the traditional themes of diplomatic relations, tackling difficult issues of race and migration, racialist influences on Wilson's peacemaking strategy, and identity and changing notions of citizenship in the transatlantic transfer of migrants. Phelps's work marks a significant expansion of traditional notions of bilateral relations between nations and makes her a trailblazer in the field of 'new' diplomatic history going beyond politics into the popular arenas of gender and cultural studies.' Günter Bischof, University of New Orleans

    'All similarities to old-fashioned diplomatic history end when reading this book on the well-worn topic of the Westphalian system of peace. Diplomats built new institutions that reflect their social activities; diplomacy sought territory and alliances. Yet all operated under the guise of forging a new racial identity for citizens within and outside of states. The ancient regime of the Hapsburgs, and the new powerhouse, the United States, vied for supremacy and, as Nicole Phelps brilliantly shows by untangling webs of politics and ideology, American racism triumphed over the diversity of old Europe. A fresh look at a traditional topic, Phelps succeeds with an original and sophisticated account of the long nineteenth century that shows how the next one hundred years - in all its volatility - took shape.' Thomas R. Zeiler, University of Colorado

    'Nicole Phelps' innovative study recovers an overlooked relationship that offers a penetrating insight into the transformation of international governance and diplomatic protocol across the long 19th century. Her richly textured account of the United States-Habsburg relationship 'demonstrates the international and transnational aspects of the construction of sovereignty' … Both international and transnational in approach, Phelps' study is a highly calibrated examination worthy of a place on the shelves of European and American historians alike. This is a rare, non-Anglo-American account of the transatlantic transformation of international society between the end of the Napoleonic and First World Wars. Phelps unfolds a finely textured and detailed image of a tangled and complex interconnection that should prompt historians to reconsider the way in which the legitimacy of international order was asserted, reinforced, and eventually, dismantled.' Stephen Tuffnell, Reviews in History

    '… highlights how US racism led not only to the mistreatment of Austro-Hungarian immigrants, but also to the delegitimization and ultimate dissolution of the mutliethnic Habsburg monarchy … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' C. Ingrao, Choice

    'Phelps provides a refreshing reminder that diplomacy during the nineteenth century mattered … [this is] an overdue introduction to the diplomatic interaction between the United States and the Habsburg Empire during the nineteenth century.' Niels Eichhorn, The Journal of American History

    'This is an important book. The author has a broad and serious knowledge of the available historical documents, challenges their informative value, and offers new and alternative modes of interpretation. From the multitude of documents from various national archives in the US, as well as in Austria, Phelps develops a dense picture of conflicts over diplomatic norms concerning mostly the migration of several million people and of the crisis of the Great War itself. Especially convincing are the individual life stories of diplomas as well as of labour migrants and merchants gathered through various documents … her study is a significant contribution to transatlantic diplomatic history of the long nineteenth century, and can be highly recommended to scholars around the world who are interested in the many themes of American and European history that Phelps covers. An important topic of transatlantic history has finally received scholarly attention.' Annemarie Steidel, Austrian Studies Newsmagazine

    'Nicole Phelps tells a fascinating story of US-Habsburg relations throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries … [this is] a prime example of an innovative study in international history, one that, it is hoped, sets the stage for more original, archival-based research in the field of Austria's and Austria-Hungary's foreign relations.' Franz Adlgasser, Austrian History Yearbook

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107546349
    • length: 306 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the Habsburg empire and the United States in transnational perspective
    1. Community and legitimacy: the diplomatic culture of the great power system
    2. Becoming a great power: US-Habsburg diplomatic relations and the integration of the United States into the great power system
    3. Protection and the problems of dual citizenship: US consuls in the Habsburg empire
    4. The limits of state-building: Habsburg consuls in the United States and the protection of lives and property
    5. Racial identity and political citizenship: American challenges to Habsburg sovereignty
    6. Giving up on Austria-Hungary: the end of the great power system and the shift to the nationalist successors
    7. Establishing sovereignty: the process of aligning race, place, and citizenship

  • Author

    Nicole M. Phelps, University of Vermont
    Nicole M. Phelps is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Vermont. She won the Austrian Cultural Forum Dissertation Prize in 2010 and an honorable mention for SHAFR's Unterberger Dissertation Prize in 2009.

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