• Office Hours:

    On leave AY 2019-2020
  • Role:

  • Position:

    • Professor
  • Concentration:

    • Modern Germany, Modern Europe
    • Gender, Agrarian
  • Department:

    • History
  • Education:

    • 2000 PhD modern German history, University of Minnesota/Twin Cities
    • 1987 M.A. German Language and Literature, University of Wisconsin/Madison
    • 1985 B.A. History and German, Mount Holyoke College


My current project, Reclaiming Germany's Wild West: Internal Colonization and Empire 1815-1989, explores German policymakers' efforts to re-imagine and reconfigure the countryside amid accelerating political, economic and social change.   The building of farm colonies, known as internal colonization, was a crucial tool of rural reform in modern Germany.  Besides state officials, new colonization projects involved scores of scientific experts, farmers' associations, the press, and politicians.  The sparsely-populated peat bogs of northwest Germany in the regions of East Frisia and the Emsland, often derided as "Muffrika," presented a host of challenges to rural settlement and the results were decidedly mixed.  I show how the new communities reflected a combination of the latest agronomical knowledge; the concerns, aspirations, and hard work of settler families; and the environmental and physical complexities of specific sites.  Additionally I trace the transnational context of these ventures, analyzing how the bodies of knowledge about scientific agriculture produced by nineteenth-century networks of Dutch, Prussian, French, and British experts was adapted and revised in northwest Prussia, and later how colonies there became the cornerstone of a rural learning region (Bildungsraum) whose influence extended south to Bavaria and Austria and to the Memel Delta in East Prussia in the decades before and after the First World War.  Later chapters consider how National Socialist planners used social and scientific data collected in northwest Germany to create templates for the future settlement of the East and, after 1945, how eastern German refugees fleeing Soviet rule became the first settlers at West German rural development projects in the Emsland and East Frisia.

Selected Publications


Gender and Rural Modernity: Farm Women and the Politics of Labor in Germany, 1871-1933 (Ashgate, Series in Labour History, 2009)

Refereed Articles

"Seeing is believing: sites/sights of agricultural improvement in Germany, 1840-1914," forthcoming in Rural History (2019): 1-13.

"Fixing Prussia's Peripheries: Rural Disasters and Prusso-German State-Building, 1866-1900," Central European History 51: 2 (2018): 204-27.

"Internal Colonization in Weimar Germany: Transnational and Local Approaches to Rural Governance in the 1920s" in Governing the Rural in Interwar Europe, ed. Liesbeth van de Grift and Amalia Ribi-Forclaz (Routledge, 2017), 24-44.

“Keeping Up with the Dutch: Internal Colonization and Rural Reform in Germany, 1800-1914,″ International Journal of History, Culture and Modernity 3, 2 (2015): 173-94.

“The Rural ‘Social Ladder’: Internal Colonization, Germanization and Civilizing Missions in the German Empire,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 40, no. 4 (2014): 457-92.

“No Smoke without Fire: Moor Burning, the Environment, and Social Reform in the German Empire, 1866-1914,” Agricultural History 88, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 207-36.

”¿ Un gran plan de mejora ? “: la colonización interna en el imperio alemán (A Grand Improvement Scheme?: Internal Colonization in Imperial Germany) Historia Social 77 (Fall 2013): 113-32.

“Landwirtschaftliche Arbeit und weibliche Körper in Deutschland, 1918-1933,” in Ort. Arbeit. Körper: Ethnographie Europäischer Modernen, ed. B. Binder, S. Göttsch, W. Kaschuba, K. Vanja (Münster: Waxmann Verlag, 2005), 477-84.

"Girls in Court: Mägde versus their Employers in Saxony, 1880-1914," in Secret Gardens, Satanic Mills: Placing Girls in European History, ed. Mary Jo Maynes et al. (Indiana University Press, 2004), 224-238.

“Pre- and Postwar Generations of Rural Female Youth and the Future of the German Nation, 1871-1933,” Continuity and Change 19, no. 3 (Cambridge, 2004): 1-19.

“The Gendering of the Postwar Agricultural Labor Shortage in Saxony, 1918-1925,” Central European History 32, no. 3 (Fall 1999): 311-29.

Teaching Award

CSU Phi Alpha Theta Outstanding History Professor of the Year, 2012

Keynote Speaker

Midwest German History Workshop, University of Indiana, Bloomington, October 10-12, 2014, “Reclaiming Germany’s ‘Wild West’: Internal Colonization and Empire, 1800-1914″

Major Grants and Scholarships

1994-95 Fulbright Dissertation Research Award, Leipzig and Dresden

2011-2012, Rachel Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich

2000, 2006, 2015, German Academic Exchange Service Research Grants for Faculty, Berlin and Dresden




  • German history, 1750-1914 & 1914-1989

  • European Society in the Industrial Age, 1650-1870 & 1870-present

  • Graduate Readings Seminar: European History since 1815

  • History of Western Civilization, 1450-present