The rich history of the Windsor-Detroit border has inspired a PhD candidate from Germany to come to Windsor and explore local archives, including those at the University. Paul-Matthias Tyrell is researching how cars, booze and munitions influenced the rise of the area’s economy from 1896 to 1945.
He will discuss his work in a free public lecture hosted by the history department Tuesday, January 27, at 2:30 p.m. in room 2173, Chrysler Hall North.
“I hope not only to understand the economic dynamic of the borderland but also its cultural implications,” said Tyrell. “Most borderland related research deals with the Mexican-American border, but lately we can observe and increasing interest in regard to the US-Canadian border. Yet especially from an economic historical perspective, there is still a certain neglect.”
Tyrell is studying at the Center for InterAmerican Studies at the University of Bielefeld. He chose the Windsor-Detroit borderland because it offers a unique opportunity to observe cross-border economic entanglements, flows and dynamics.
“Many of the great developments which shaped Detroit’s identity in the first half of the 20th century—for example the rise of the automotive industry or its role as arsenal of democracy during the Second World War—were indeed cross-border developments, much more than people realize,” he says.
“At no time was this more obvious than during the Prohibition Era, which left a rich legacy of stories, narratives and legends,” says Tyrell, citing UWindsor instructor Marty Gervais’ collection, The Rumrunners: A Prohibition Scrapbook.
He says he was impressed with the warm welcome he’s got from UWindsor’s history department and the archivists at Leddy Library.
“It’s a great opportunity for me. I’ve studied this for a long time in Germany and now I can talk to people in the actual area about it,” said Tyrell.