Gender, Exile, and the Framing of Social Science Careers in Central Europe and the United States, 1940-1980
My dissertation focuses on Austrian and German women émigré social scientists who emigrated to the United States between 1920 and 1950. My project will investigate their lives and subsequent careers and reveal their professional networks as they related to the social and academic culture of the United States at a time when the social sciences expanded greatly and gained significant public authority.
My goal is to analyze the movements, networks, cultures, identities, and scholarly activities of women émigré social scientists. Working as academic researchers, college and university teachers, in professions outside universities (for example in social work and market research), the most successful émigrés combined a unique set of characteristics, that is, their European and American training, their experience of exile, their cultural and cognitive traditions, their encounters with social norms and role expectations in different places, and their language and connections that maintained dynamic international collaborations. These outcomes left a lasting mark on the social science disciplines and their perspectives on society, as well as on the émigrés' personal and professional identities in ways that have yet to be examined.
This project will address the following questions: How did the émigré women's lives and careers compare to other groups: to their American-born colleagues, to émigrés from other countries, and to male émigrés in the social sciences? What were their roles in the production of social scientific knowledge in the United States and to what extent did it reflect their training and work experience in Austria and Germany? How did migration impact these women's identities, their career choices, and their research? Insofar as the social sciences were hierarchically structured along gender lines, how did this differ in Europe and in the United States? How did their ongoing experience in the United States influence their constantly changing perceptions of Europe and European social sciences in the second half of the twentieth century? As the émigré status in quite different personal and professional contexts forced many of the migrants to reflect on their identities, their theoretical and methodological training in the social sciences equipped them to engage with this issue of identity. Thus, this specific constellation renders them a promising group to study systematically their self-identification as Europeans, as European-Americans or as Americans. It also allows insights into the ways in which they forged a fresh perception of Europe as they established themselves in and adapted to the United States.