Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Thomas W Zeiler

Second Advisor

John Hatch

Third Advisor

William Wei

Fourth Advisor

Sarah W Sokhey

Fifth Advisor

John O'Loughlin

Abstract

This dissertation examines the debate over the `Slovak Question' from a transatlantic perspective, through the relationship between Slovaks, Americans of Slovak heritage, and United States and Czechoslovak policymakers. It shows how Slovak national activism in America helped establish among the Slovaks a sense of independent identity and national political assertion through a transatlantic exchange of ideas and transatlantic political and culture organization. This transatlantic national activism provided a disruptive influence that helped sabotage Magyarization before World War I and then Czechoslovakization afterwards. Relatedly, this dissertation considers questions of United States diplomacy. The American influences on Slovak national identity transmitted by the Slovak-Americans led Slovaks on both sides of the Atlantic to perceive the United States and Slovakia as natural allies. This dissertation shows, however, how anti-democratic mentalities and negative stereotypes about the Slovaks led the American foreign policy establishment to ignore a valuable source of input among Slovaks and Slovak-Americans and to overlook Slovakia in the framework of larger events. It uses the Slovak case to illustrate how U.S. policymakers left themselves with fewer options in altering the direction of the major European conflicts of the 20th century by overlooking conditions in the smaller states of Central and Eastern Europe.

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