CAS Book & Dissertation Prizes

A design with the phrase "The Center for Austrian Studies Dissertation Prize"
The Center for Austrian Studies awards a Biennial Book Prize and a Dissertation Prize, which in the past has been made possible by generous donations from David and Rosemary Good.

The purpose of these competitions is to encourage North American scholars and doctoral candidates in the full range of academic disciplines to do research in the field of Austrian, Habsburg, and post-Habsburg studies.

The Center for Austrian Studies is pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 Center for Austrian Studies Dissertation Prize! 


WINNER: Ambika Natarajan, Sex, Surveillance, and the Servant Question in Vienna, 1850-1914.

The committee is very pleased to unanimously award the CAS Dissertation prize to Ambika

Natarajan’s study of migrant women who worked in service in Vienna places maidservants at the centre of Viennese social life and the wider Habsburg Empire. Natarajan shows that narratives about domestic service served as a tool with which to establish baselines of acceptability and criminality, even as domestic servants crossed these boundaries throughout the period 1850-1914. Questioning the category of passive victims assigned to maidservants at the time, Natarajan works against the silencing of maidservants by combining statistical analyses of the servant population with qualitative analyses of caricatures, news reports of murders, police files and medical discussions to reconstruct the limited landscape of choices and range of repressive marginalizations which maidservants actively navigated in everyday life.  

Natarajan identifies service as one of the essential drivers of female migration and employment within the Empire, and shows that narratives about this population, so revealing of anxieties about the Freudian nuclear family and the boundaries of the elite home which service personnel transgressed, played a role in constructing the empire itself. Sitting solidly in the literature on gender-anxious fin-de-siecle treatments of working women, sex in politics, religious discourse, art and science, this migratory study of working women provides a new perspective on the Habsburg Empire on the basis of copious archival source work in various languages.  

Natarajan’s writing is brisk and engaging, and she seamlessly weaves together the various source materials into a rich and nuanced picture of Vienna and the broader empire. The dissertation examines various contextual frames for understanding the so-called Servant Problem and then uses case studies drawn from police records to show how individual women lived and moved within these frames. The chapter on Mädchenhandel is especially compelling in its portrayal of young women who moved freely around the empire to earn money in the sex industry.


WINNER: Malachi Haim Hacohen, Jacob & Esau: Jewish European History Between Nation and Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

The Selection Committee of the Center for Austrian Studies awards the 2020 biennial book prize to Malachi Haim Hacohen for his powerful and original study, Jacob & Esau: Jewish European History Between Nation and Empire.  While demonstrating the ways in which Jewish history was inextricably linked with the history of Europe as a whole, Hacohen’s narrative also underscores the enduring significance of rabbinic culture and Jewish religious traditions. In so doing, he deftly charts a middle path between cosmopolitan and nationalist narratives of Jewish European history. At the center of this account is the Jews’ sometimes fraught relationship with the multinational Habsburg Empire. Hacohen combines theoretical sophistication with a confident and magisterial command of a broad variety of sources, including documents from archives on three continents. He also engages with numerous literatures in multiple languages: historical, literary, philosophical, political, and religious. Breathtaking in its chronological sweep across two millennia of Jewish European history, this innovative work establishes Hacohen as one of the premier intellectual historians of his generation. Written in a lucid and engaging style, this is intellectual history at its best. 


Previous Prize Winners

(awarded by Austrian Cultural Forum up to 2010)

Dissertation Prizes

  • 2019: Katherine Younger, "Contested Confession: The Greek Catholic/Uniate Church in 19th-Century Politics" (Yale University, 2018)
  • 2016: Timothy Olin, "Expanding Europe: German Borderland Colonization in the Banat of Temesvár, 1716-1847" (History, Purdue University, 2015)
  • 2014: Anita Kurimay, "Sex in the ‘Pearl of the Danube’: The History of Queer Life, Love, and Its Regulation in Budapest, 1873-1941" (History, Rutgers University, 2012)
  • 2012: Erin Regina Hoffman, "Staging the Nation, Staging Democracy: The Politics of Commemoration in Germany and Austria, 1918-1933/34" (History, University of Toronto, Canada, 2010)
  • 2010: Nicole Phelps, "Sovereignty, Citizenship, and the New Liberal Order: US—Habsburg Relations and the Transformation of International Politics, 1880-2000" (History, University of Minnesota, 2008)
  • 2008: David W. Gerlach, “For Nation and Gain: Economy, Ethnicity, and Politics in the Czech Borderlands, 1945-1948” (History, University of Pittsburgh, 2007)
  • 2006: Tara Zahra, “Your Child Belongs to the Nation: Nationalism, Germanization, and Democracy in the Bohemian Lands” (History, University of Michigan, 2005)
  • 2004: Philip J. Howe, "Well-Tempered Discontent: Nationalism, Ethnic Group Politics, Electoral Institutions and Parliamentary Behavior in the Western Half of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, 1867-1914" (Political Science, University of California, San Diego)
  • 2002: Alison Fleig Frank, "Austrian El Dorado: A History of the Oil Industry in Galicia, 1853-1923" (History, Harvard University, 2001)
  • 2001: Christa Gaug, "Situating the City: The Textual and Spatial Construction of Late 19th-century Berlin and Vienna in City Texts by Theodor Fontane and Daniel Spitzer" (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2000: Jeremy King, “Loyalty and Polity, Nation and State: A Town in Habsburg Central Europe, 1848–1948" (Columbia University)
  • 1999: Julie Johnson, "The Art of Women: Women's Art Exhibitions in Fin-De-Siècle Vienna" (University of Chicago)
  • 1998: Cathleen Giustino, "Architecture and the Nation: Modern Urban Design and Possibilities for Political Participation in Czech Prague 1900" (Northwestern University)
  • 1996-97: Julie Dorn Morrison, "Gustav Mahler at the Wiener Hofoper: A Study of Critical Reception in the Viennese Press (1897-1907)" (Northwestern University)
  • 1995-96: William D. Godsey, "Aristocratic Redoubt: The Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office on the Eve of the First World War" (University of Virginia)
  • 1994-95: Doris M. Klostermaier, "Marie von Ebner Eschenbach.The Victory of a Tenacious Will" (University of Manitoba)
  • 1993-94: Geoffrey D. W. Wawro, "The Austro-Prussian War: Politics, Strategy, and War in the Habsburg Monarchy 1859-1866" (Yale University)
  • 1992-93: Christopher Gibbs, "The Presence of Erlönig: Reception and Reworkings of Schubert Lied" (Columbia University)
  • 1991-92: Joseph Francis Patrouch III, "Methods of Cultural Manipulation: The Counter-Reformation in the Habsburg Province of Upper Austria, 1570-1650" (University of California, Berkeley)
  • 1990-91: William Bowman, "Priest, Parish, and Religious Practice: A Social History of Catholicism in the Archdiocese of Vienna, 1800-1879" (Johns Hopkins University)

Book Prizes

  • [Prize postponed due to COVID-19 Pandemic until 2023]: Please see the most recent call for submissions - Deadline: May 5th, 2023. 
  • 2020: Malachi Haim Hacohen, Jacob & Esau: Jewish European History Between Nation and Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • 2018: Nancy M. Wingfield, The World of Prostitution in Late Imperial Austria (Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • 2016: James Van Horn Melton, Religion, Community, and Slavery on the Colonial Southern Frontier (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • 2014: Dominique Kirchner Reill, Nationalists Who Feared the Nation (Stanford University Press, 2012)
  • 2012: Paulina Bren, The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring (Cornell University Press, 2010)
  • 2010: Tara Zahra, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands (Cornell University Press, 2008)
  • 2008: Deborah R. Coen, Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty: Science, Liberalism, and Private Life (University of Chicago Press, 2007)
  • 2006: Alison Flieg Frank, Oil Empire: Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia (Harvard University Press, 2005)
  • 2004: Gitta Honegger, Thomas Bernhard: The Making of an Austrian (Yale University Press, 2001)
  • 2002: Paula Sutter Fichtner, Emperor Maximilian II (Yale University Press, 2001)
  • 2001: Dr. Evan Burr Bukey, Hitler's Austria: Popular Sentiment in the Nazi Era, 1938-45 (University of North Carolina Press, 2000)
  • 2000: Dr. Eve Blau, The Architecture of Red Vienna, 1919-1934 (MIT Press, 1999)
  • 1999: Louis Rose, The Freudian Calling: Early Viennese Psychoanalysis and the Pursuit of Cultural Science (Wayne State University Press, 1998)
  • 1998: Pieter Judson, Exclusive Revolutionaries: Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire, 1848-1918 (University of Michigan Press, 1996)
  • 1996-97: Robert Rotenberg, Landscape and Power in Vienna (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)
  • 1995-96: Franz A. J. Szabo, Kaunitz and Enlightened Absolutism, 1758-1780 (Cambridge University Press, 1994)
  • 1994-95: Sander Gilman, Freud, Race, and Gender (Princeton University Press, 1993)
  • 1993-94: Bruce F. Pauley, From Prejudice to Persecution: A History of Austrian Anti-Semitism (University of North Carolina Press, 1992)
  • 1992-93: Carl Dolmetsch, "Our Famous Guest": Mark Twain in Vienna (University of Georgia Press, 1992)
  • 1991-92: Helmut Gruber, Red Vienna: Experiment in Working-Class Culture, 1919-1934 (Oxford University Press, 1991)
  • 1990-91: John Komlos, Nutrition and Economic Development in the Eighteenth Century Habsburg Monarchy: An Anthropometric History (Princeton University Press, 1989)

ACF Article Prize

  • 1989: Harry Ritter, "Progressive Historians and the Historical Imagination in Austria: Heinrich Friedjung and Richard Charmatz," Austrian History Yearbook 19-20, no. 1 (1983-1984): 45-90.

* (Note: this AHY volume was actually published in 1988.)

Submissions for the CAS Dissertation Prize will be 
collected in Spring 2022.

Submissions for the CAS Book Prize will next be
collected in Spring 2023.