Briana J. Smith, PhD

                                                                                               Briana Smith Photograph

I am an Assistant Director and Lecturer in the Committee on Degrees in History & Literature at Harvard and a historian of modern Europe. My book, Free Berlin: Art, Urban Politics, and Everyday Lifewill appear with MIT Press in fall 2022. Free Berlin examines spontaneous art actions, performances, and installations staged in galleries, apartments, private art spaces, and city streets across Berlin from the late Cold War period to the present. It reveals the emergence of an egalitarian and socially engaged visual culture in the divided city that elevated art and creativity as an essential component of civic life. Free Berlin argues that this visual culture was equally formative of the durable tradition of participation, civic engagement, and lively urban agitation in the contemporary city. 

My new research project, The Computerization of Germany: A Cultural History , explores the history of everyday computer users in Cold War and post-Wall Germany and explores how these users shaped society and politics both on- and offline. These users include East German gamers and hobbyists, West German hackers, net critics and artists, and the founders of the German Pirate Party.

I have also published articles in the American Historical Review and Contemporary European History.

My teaching and research interests include twentieth century Europe, modern Germany, the global Cold War, art and politics, media and technology in society, digital culture, and urban studies. 

In my free time, I like to hike in any forest I can find and make amateur recordings on GarageBand. 

Please contact me at bjsmith (at)