I am an historian of modern Germany and lecturer in History & Literature at Harvard. I earned a PhD in history from the University of Iowa in 2017. My book project, Creative Alternatives: Experimental Art and Grassroots Politics in Berlin, 1971-Present, recovers a largely forgotten world of experimental artists and their outsized effect on grassroots politics in late twentieth century Berlin. The work examines spontaneous art actions, performances, and installations staged in galleries, apartments, private art spaces, and city streets across Berlin, connecting artistic projects to the political worlds of divided Berlin, the fall of communism, and German re-unification. My research has been supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Free University of Berlin, and the Presidential Fellowship of the Graduate College of the University of Iowa. A second project examines the critical responses of artists, hackers, and political activists during the “computerization” of Germany in the late twentieth century.
My teaching and research interests include twentieth century Europe, postwar Germany, art and politics, urban studies and digital history.
In my free time, I like to hike in any forest I can find and make amateur recordings on Garage Band.
Please contact me at bjsmith (at) fas.harvard.edu