Venken indicated how she became interested in the topic and dwelled on the numerous archival sources she consulted for the book. She started out explaining territorial shifts on the European continent following the First World War and her selection of two case-studies: the Polish-German borderlands (Polish Upper Silesia) and the Belgian-German borderlands (the regions of Eupen, Sankt Vith and Malmedy). She continued sketching out the nature of the Great War in these regions and its impact on children and schooling. Using her newly developed spatiotemporal framework of comparison, the author explained how, in the years following that war, state representatives sought to cultivate national belonging and make borders through educational policies. She paid special attention to the negotiations of such policy measures with borderland inhabitants on local, national, international and supranational levels of decision-making. She concluded that borderland schooling continued to be different from the schooling offered in other parts of Poland or Belgium throughout the interwar years and presented a profile of borderland schooling. At the end of the interview, Venken compared her findings to borderland schooling in Soviet Ukraine and Yugoslavia.
Machteld Venken was interviewed by Jill Massino, a scholar of modern Eastern Europe with a focus on Romania, gender, and everyday life.
The podcast is available here: https://newbooksnetwork.com/peripheries-at-the-centre