Dr Friederike Kind-Kovács

Curriculum Vitae

Friederike Kind-Kovacs is since 2009 assistant professor at the department of Southeast- and East European History at the University of Regensburg and member of the Graduate School of East and Southeast European Studies (Regensburg University/LMU Munich). She gained in 2008 her Ph.D. in Contemporary History from Potsdam University (Center for Contemporary History Research), which was co-supervised at the Central European University in Budapest. She graduated in 2002 from St. Andrews University (UK) in Modern History. Her current research engages with the social history of childhood, poverty and humanitarianism in the aftermath of WWI. She is the author of Written Here, Published There: How Underground Literature Crossed the Iron Curtain (CEU Press, 2014), a monograph for which she won the University of Southern California Book Prize in Cultural and Literary Studies, awarded by The Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies in 2015.


Research project at the Kolleg


The historical book takes one of Central Europe's major urban spaces, the capital city Budapest and its children in need, to reconstruct how, in the aftermath of WWI, this social hotspot turned into a core 'laboratory' of transnational humanitarian intervention. The projected volume treats the case of Budapest's needy children as a particularly telling testing ground of how Western humanitarianism behaved towards one of the Allies' former enemy countries in Central Europe. It starts off by examining the emergence and professionalization of the vernacular Hungarian child welfare system prior to and during WWI. It then elaborates how the city's children were affected by the social consequences of the war and the imperial dissolution, by showcasing the children's abrupt displacement, impoverishment, social decline, physical distress and famine. The book explores next how Budapest's children as iconic victims of the war's aftermath, and particularly the visual representation of their harmed physical constitution, were used to trigger humanitarian sentiments throughout the United States and Western Europe. Examining discourses and everyday practices of relief, the book will bring out the dynamic interplay between local Hungarian child welfare organizations and international humanitarian organizations that were active in Hungary. Here much can be learnt from the discourse over children's famine and food relief: it shows us clearly how the provision of food relief played its part in the struggle for post-war economic, scientific and moral supremacy. Combining an extensive body of Hungarian sources with a great diversity of written and visual sources from international archives allows for a genuinely transnational perspective. Sources have been gathered from at least a dozen Hungarian and the international archives of the Save the Children Union, the ICRC and the League of Nations in Geneva, the Save the Children Fund in Birmingham, the Rockefeller Foundation and the JDC in New York, the ARA in Stanford, the ARC in Washington, and the National Archives in Vienna, London and Washington. On this basis, the book sheds light on the ambivalent repercussions of relief on local societies and transatlantic power relation.

Main areas of research

  • Cultural and social history of Central Europe
  • Social history of childhood, poverty and social welfare
  • History of hunger, food and health
  • Philanthropy and humanitarianism
  • Borders, displacement and migration
  • Transnational cultural and media history of the cold war

 

Positions and memberships

  • Member of the Graduate School of East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg/Munich.
  • Member of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) and the Society for the History of Childhood and Youth (SHCY).
  • 'Co-Investigator' in the Leverhulme Trust International Network Connecting the Wireless World: Writing Global Radio History, Bristol University. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/research/global-radio-history/people/ (2016-2019).
  • 'Co-Investigator' in the Leverhulme Trust International Network Hunger Draws the Map: Blockade and Food Shortages in Europe, 1914-1922, Oxford University. http://greatwar.history.ox.ac.uk/?page_id=2202 (2015-2018).