Margaret Lavinia Anderson

Margaret Lavinia Anderson

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: German and East European History

Competition: US & Canada

University of California, Berkeley

A Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, Margaret Lavinia Anderson will use her term as a Guggenheim Fellow to investigate the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.  Approaching the topic through the eyes of Germans, whose eye-witness reports are the most extensive documentary record available, Ms. Anderson’s research explores the variety of German responses to the conundrum "realism versus humanity?"–from the initial ambivalence of policymakers during the first mass killing of Armenians in the 1890s, when they weighed the potential effects of intervention on German investments, Ottoman stability, and the international ballance of power; through the years of World War I, when official Germany saw a Turkish alliance–even after the genocide had begun–as indispensable to victory, while junior officials and members of the public urged intervention;  until the 1930s, when the searing memory of the fate of Armenians (with the nagging issue of responsibility) was gradually superseded by the travails of other victims.  In recovering the controversies that burned during these four decades, Ms. Anderson’s work raises the question, Can genocides be prevented by the "international community"? Or does human rights activism by outsiders risk contributing to conflicts within the countries that are the object of their concern, by fueling the majority’s indignation at "imperalism" and its suspicions of their minority population and by encouraging (as some analysts have recently warned) minorities themselves in dangerous behaviors ("moral hazard"). In 2007, she published an initial assessment in Journal of Modern History (79:1, 80-113), entitled "’Down in Turkey Far Away’: Human Rights, the Armenian Massacres, and Orientalism in Wilhelmine Germany."

Well known internationally for her previous work on German domestic history, particularly on questions of democratic development and the intersection of religion and politics, Ms. Anderson has been an invited speaker at the Free University of Berlin, Cambridge University, Harvard University, Stanford University, and other prominent institutions.  Her articles include three award-winners:  "The Myth of the Puttkamer Purge and the Reality of the Kulturkampf: Some Reflections on the Recent Historiography of Imperial Germany" (with Kenneth Barkin), Journal of Modern History, 54/4 (December 1982): 647-686; "The Kulturkampf and the Course of German History," Central European History, 19/1 (March 1986): 82-115; and "Voter, Junker, Landrat, Priest: The Old Authorities and the New Franchise in Imperial Germany," American Historical Review, 98, No. 5 (December 1993): 1448-75.  Her first book, Windthorst: A Political Biography (Oxford UP, 1981), was translated into German, and her Practicing Democracy: Elections and Political Culture in Imperial Germany (Princeton UP, 2000) will also appear in a German edition.  With research supported by several NEH fellowships, Ms. Anderson has also been a Prize Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, an ACLS Fellow, and a Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center.  She currently holds a research fellowship at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.  She has been President of the Conference Group for Central European History and served for ten years on the Academic Advisory Council of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.

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