by Valerie Kimble
SOCORRO, N.M., Feb. 13, 2008 – Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer left his native Germany for the U.S. Capital Beltway, veered north to Vermont for a spell, and will be heading to Florence, Italy when he leaves New Mexico Tech this summer.
Such wide-ranging travels make for quite the geographic experience for a man whose primary interest is steeped in political history. Trauschweizer is a visiting professor of history with the Department of Humanities, where he teaches a survey course in U.S. history and upper-division classes in Military History and the History of U.S. Foreign Relations.
He will begin work on his second book as a 2008 – 2009 Max Weber Research Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. The book’s working title is Different Militarisms: War, State and Society in Germany and the United States.
Meanwhile, Trauschweizer has settled into life in Socorro and New Mexico Tech.
“I find students here surprisingly engaged in the courses I teach,” he said. “They seem to be actually interested in the classes, instead of taking them just because they have to – even in the survey courses.”
Before his move to Socorro last fall, Trauschweizer spent a year as an assistant professor at Norwich University in central Vermont, “which is about as thinly populated as it is here,” he said, and reflects a similar gender mix. Norwich, a military academy and partner with New Mexico Military Institute, is academically comparable to a typical New England liberal arts college.
Trauschweizer enjoyed cross-country skiing and learning to snowshoe in Vermont, which is further south than the Stuttgart area of Germany where he was schooled, but gets more snow.
“I had the option of staying there for another year, or coming here, among other short-term offers,” he said. “I was intrigued with living in a different part of the country, and so opted for the chance to see something new.”
Trauschweizer spent his first three years in college in Germany, where he pursued a double major in history and American studies, before transferring to the University of Maryland. In the spring of 2006 he left Maryland with a Ph.D. in international and diplomatic history and the nucleus of his first book, The Cold War U.S. Army.
In his new book, Trauschweizer is exploring the nuances of “militarism,” a word that means different things to different people. “I’m striving for a sharper definition,” he said. He will also compare and contrast the U.S. and Germany as nation-states both born of war – the U.S. with its Revolutionary War of 1776; and Germany, beginning with its Wars of Liberation in 1813.
“In America, everyone was, in theory, a citizen solder, which is very different from a professional soldier or the long-standing armies you have in Europe,” said Trauschweizer.
“From there, I’d like to pursue what the terms society and the state mean,” he said. “In U.S. history, until the Depression, the state was something society tolerated, whereas in Germany, the state was a mechanism of aristocratic control over people,” he said.
Trauschweizer is most looking forward to the opportunity to write full-time.
“I don’t need to sit in a lab to work,” he said. “I can sit in a café and mull over the central questions of one of the chapters.” Florence should provide him with plenty of opportunity to do this.
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