David Spreen is a historian of modern Germany with research interests in the inter-/transnational entanglements of decolonization, the global Cold War, and the broad social and cultural transformations of the postcolonial period. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2019 and joins Harvard from Berlin, where he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universität. His current book project explores the impact of decolonization on cultures of radical protest—Maoism in particular—in divided Germany. The project follows people's movements and collaborations across national borders as well as the North/South and East/West divides. It demonstrates that “German” Maoism in the 1970s was a profoundly transnational phenomenon—involving exchange students and workers from Iran, Palestine, Turkey, and Southern Africa in activism across the two Germanies, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. However, as the book shows, the traces of this multi-ethnic Left have been systematically obscured not just by the memory literature of former activists but by the very way archives about the postwar Left have been constructed.
Students working broadly in German and European history or with research interests in the histories of decolonization, the global Cold War, political violence, or the history of the Left should feel free to reach out either to consult via email or set up a zoom call.
Beginning in July 2022, he will join the faculty of the department as an Assistant Professor of History.