Ke-Chin Hsia

Associate Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

Why do people think the state owes them something: services, money, or acts of symbolic recognition? Why do the state and its officials believe they have the power and even duty to intervene in people’s lives? What leads to such expectations and assumptions? And what are the implications of these expectations and assumptions for the meaning (or should we say the “content”) of the state and citizenship, especially at critical moments when one side’s very survival was dependent on the other? These are the main questions that motivate my research in the history of the late Habsburg Empire and post-WWI Central Europe.

My book, Victims’ State: War and Welfare in Austria, 1868-1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022), is an analysis of how the Austrian state (first Imperial/Habsburg and then the small republican one) and society tackled the human and social consequences of soldering in an era of universal military service, democratizing political culture, and totalizing war mobilization. Specifically, it focuses on the politics of welfare provision for disabled veterans and dead soldiers’ surviving dependents (the so-called war victims) before, during, and after the First World War. By looking closely at the actions of and interactions between state officials and grass root war victim activists, the project combines political and social history in charting the emergence of a particular kind of state and a new conception (and practices) of citizenship in the context of multinational polity, war, and revolution.

Two other research projects are underway. One is about refugees who claimed to be or had no choice but became "Austrians" at the end of the Second World War--what and who made them "Austrians"? The other is about political asylum and law and order in revolutionary Vienna. Growing up in Taiwan, receiving graduate education in the U.S., and doing research in Europe, I am also very interested in the rise of social insurance systems in Europe and East Asia from a transnational perspective. My fascination with baseball as a subject of international and transnational history is growing as well.


Honors and Awards

  • IU Trustees Teaching Award
  • Bessie Pierce Prize Preceptorship, Department of History, University of Chicago
  • Dissertation Fellowship, The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange
  • Ernst Mach Grant, OeAD/Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
  • Österreich Scholarship, OeAD/Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture

Research Interests

  • Modern East Central Europe
  • The First World War
  • Welfare State
  • Democratization and Bureaucracy
  • Nationalism in Multinational Empire
  • Citizenship
  • Disability


  • Ph.D. at University of Chicago, 2013

Courses Taught

  • The Habsburg Empire, 1780-1918
  • Europe from Napoleon to the First World War
  • Men, Women, and the Nation in Modern Europe
  • Nationalism: History and Theory
  • Democratic Revolutions Since 1980
  • Democracy's Frenemies: Nationalism, Communism, Fascism
  • World War I: Global War
  • Warfare and Welfare
  • Baseball as History


  • Victims' State: War and Welfare in Austria, 1868-1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022). A description is here.
    This book's open access edition can be freely downloaded at Internet Archive and OAPEN, among other open depositories, thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported Sustainable History Monograph Pilot.
  • "'War Victims': Concepts of Victimhood and the Austrian Identity after the Habsburgs," Contemporary Austrian Studies 27 (2018): 245-252.
  • "Sissi, The Chinese Princess: A Timely and Versatile Post-Mao Icon" (coauthered with Fei-Hsien Wang), in Sissi’s World: The Empress Elisabeth in Memory and Myth, ed. Maura E. Hametz and Heidi Schlipphacke (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 181-211.
  • “Who Provided Care for Wounded and Disabled Soldiers? Conceptualizing State-Civil Society Relationship in WWI Austria,” in Other Fronts, Other Wars? First World War Studies on the Eve of the Centennial, ed. Joachim Bürgschwentner, Matthias Egger, and Gunda Barth-Scalmani (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 303-328.
  • “Austrian Studies with ‘Chinese Characteristics?’ Some Observations” (coauthored with Fei-Hsien Wang), in Global Austria: Austria’s Place in Europe and the World, ed. Günter Bischof, Fritz Plasser, Anton Pelinka, and Alexander Smith (New Orleans: UNO Press; Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, 2011), 282-296.
  • “A Partnership of the Weak: War Victims and the State in the Early First Austrian Republic,” in From Empire to Republic: Post-World War I Austria, ed. Günter Bischof, Fritz Plasser, and Peter Berger (New Orleans: UNO Press; Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, 2010), 192-221.