I am a historian and Americanist living in Cologne, Germany, with a doctorate in American Cultural History from LMU Munich (2013). My research focuses on the United States and Germany in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

I work as a lecturer at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies of Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz. From 2014–2016, I was a postdoctoral fellow and member of the “Economization of the Social” at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. In 2023, I became a guest fellow at the GIGA.

My book Wires That Bind: Nation, Region, and Technology in the American Southwest, 1854–1920 was published by Transcript in 2017. “Thus, History!,” a research blog I still occasionally write, features commentary on history as well as on current events in historical perspective. I have published on a wide variety of historical topics, including the communications revolution, U.S. popular culture, and various aspects of intellectual history.

I host two podcasts, the German language “Die letzten Detektive,” a review podcast about a series of neo-noir sci-fi radio plays from the 1980s and 1990s (with Rudolf Inderst), and, in English, “In Front of Ira,” a deep dive into the tropes, plots, and historical context of romantic comedies (with Sabrina Mittermeier).

You can find me on social media as @torstenkathke, e.g. on Mastodon, Twitter (no longer very actively), LinkedIn and Instagram. I’m @kathke.com on Bluesky.

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Wires That Bind

Wires That Bind Book Cover

Torsten Kathke
Wires That Bind
Nation, Region, and Technology in the Southwestern United States, 1854-1920

The arrival of telegraphy and railroads changed power relations throughout the world in the nineteenth century. In the Mesilla region of the American Southwest, it contributed to two distinct and rapid shifts in political and economic power from the 1850s to the 1920s. Torsten Kathke illustrates how the changes these technologies wrought everywhere could be seen at a much accelerated pace here. A local Hispano elite was replaced first by a Hispano-Anglo one, and finally a nationally oriented Anglo elite. As various groups tried to gain, hold, and defend power, the region became bound ever closer to the US economy and to the federal government.

Published by Transcript Verlag (Europe) and Columbia University Press (United States and elsewhere).

Available through Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Barnes and Noble, etc.

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