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Friedrich Katz

Essays zu Leben und Wirken eines transnationalen Historikers - Essays on the Life and Work of a Transnational Historian


Edited By Martina Kaller, David Mayer and Berthold Molden

Die in diesem Band versammelten Essays sind dem Historiker und Lateinamerikanisten Friedrich Katz (1927-2010) gewidmet. Sie fußen auf einem Symposium, das im Herbst 2011 zu seinen Ehren in Wien abgehalten wurde, und vereinen unterschiedliche Perspektiven auf sein Leben und Werk. Friedrich Katz war einer der großen Sozialhistoriker zur lateinamerikanischen Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Seine Arbeiten zur Mexikanischen Revolution zählen zu den grundlegenden Werken über dieses Thema. Er verstand es, in quellenkritischer Tiefe die Besonderheiten Mexikos in die Weltgeschichte einzuschreiben. Andererseits verschlug eben diese Weltgeschichte ihn selbst als Kind von Wien über Berlin, Paris und New York nach Mexiko, nach 1945 wieder nach Wien und Ostberlin und schließlich nach Chicago.
The essays collected in this volume are dedicated to the historian and Latin Americanist Friedrich Katz (1927-2010). They are based on a symposium held in his honour in Vienna in the autumn of 2011 and bring together varying perspectives of his life and work. As one of the great social historians of our time, Friedrich Katz had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sources relevant to Latin America’s twentieth century history. His studies of the Mexican Revolution rank foremost among contributions to the field. More than anyone before he succeeded in relating the specifics of Mexico’s history to the broader processes of global history. That same global history impacted repeatedly on Katz’ own life: he was forced to leave Vienna as a child and moved with his family to Mexico, via Berlin, Paris and New York; he returned to Vienna after 1945 only to leave again for East Berlin before finally settling in Chicago.


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Well-Versed in Worlds: Friedrich Katz and the historiographical debates of his time David Mayer


There are probably few twentieth century historians who will bear comparison with Friedrich Katz for being, in their life and in their work, so well-versed in so many different worlds. At a time – right up to the late 1990s – when almost the whole profession was practically married to the idea of the “nation-state”, Katz combined his cosmopolitanism with ties to several adopted homelands. Adopted homelands, “patria adoptiva” in Spanish, quite appropriately featured in the title of a 2007 conference in Mexico in honour of Friedrich Katz’ 80th birthday; this conference involved high-ranking officials and evoked a great deal of interest from the media.1 Mexico was however far from being Katz’ only adopted home: there was also Chicago, where he engaged in scholarly and academic work from the 1970s onward; Vienna to which he used to pay regular and lengthy visits right up to the end of his life; and East Berlin, where he concluded his academic training, reached maturity as a scholar, and made his home for almost 15 years. What is remarkable about all this is the apparent ease with which Katz commut- ed across the seemingly all-important fault lines of twentieth century global his- tory: East and West, North and South. The smoothness with which, in retrospect, Katz seems to have performed these multiple border crossings is of course illu- sory; more often than not, he found himself having to cope with a host of differ- ent constraints and pressures. Crossing borders is a leitmotif not only in...

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