Skip to content
Back to directory

David Spreen

Resident Faculty & Seminar Co-chair

Assistant Professor of History

David Spreen

Resident Faculty & Seminar Co-chair


David Spreen

David Spreen is assistant professor of history at Harvard University and a resident faculty at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES). 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. Prior to joining Harvard University, Spreen was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. 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.

At CES, Spreen co-chairs the History Seminar.

This information is accurate for the time period that the visiting scholar is affiliated with CES.


  • Assistant Professor of History, Harvard University
  • Resident Faculty and Seminar Co-Chair, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University

Select Publications

“Radical Protest or Shadow Diplomacy: The Decolonization of Zimbabwe and West German Maoism, 1960-1980,” in Rethinking Social Movements after 68: Selves and Solidarities in West Germany and Beyond edited by Belinda Davis, Friederike Brühöfener, and Stephen Milder. New York: Berghahn Books, 2022.

“Signal Strength Excellent in West Germany: Radio Tirana, European Maoist Internationalism and its Disintegration in the Global Seventies” in European Review of History: Revue Européenne d’histoire, 29:3, June 2022.