Natasha WheatleyNov 12, 2023
The Life and Death of States
Central Europe and the Transformation of Modern Sovereignty
Princeton University Press 2023
Natasha Wheatley is an Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University. Her bold and riveting debut monograph, The Life and Death of States: Central Europe and the Transformation of Modern Sovereignty (Princeton University Press, 2023), narrates the transition from empire to nation-states in the heartlands of Europe once governed by the Habsburg Empire. The book traces the modern history of sovereignty over one hundred tumultuous years, explaining how a regime of nation-states theoretically equal under international law emerged from the ashes of a dynastic empire.
The Life and Death of States reveals how Habsburg Europe was the crucible for our contemporary world order. Wheatley's aim is to theorize from Central Europe to see how sovereignty can be (re)produced in a complex world. The study uncovers how the Central European experience crystallized legal questions that would arise again in the era of global decolonization, connecting the story of the end of empire to the birth of new nations throughout the twentieth century. In this respect, the work serves not only as a history of Central Europe but also a "prehistory" of the era of decolonization.
Vladislav Lilic is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University.