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Biography

I am a historian of ideas interested in the way in which changing concepts of ‘the economy,’ ‘liberty’, and the ‘responsible individual’ came to shape dominant academic and popular discourses in the latter half of the twentieth century. Hoping to overcome the artificial boundary between ‘low’ and ‘high’ cultures, my work integrates perspectives from intellectual and cultural history (as well as neighbouring disciplines), reading popular culture on an equal footing with scholarly debates.

Presently, I am completing my doctoral thesis entitled “Popularizing the Neoliberal Utopia: American Libertarian Fictions and the Quest to Design a Liberal Vision of the Future, 1930s to 1960s” at the European University Institute. In addition to this, I am also currently a Doctoral Fellow at the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) in Mainz.

In my dissertation, I try to gain a historical understanding of why neoliberal notions of the market as guarantor of freedom and the individual as entrepreneur of the self enjoyed such a steady popularity in the second half of the twentieth century, even up until today. To do so, I show how neoliberal thinkers were able to rescue the concept of utopia from the pessimism of mainstream liberal anti-totalitarianism during and after World War II, paving the way for a new liberal imagination of the future. In three case studies of popular writers—Henry Hazlitt, Ayn Rand, and Robert A. Heinlein—I demonstrate how neoliberal ideas of market, freedom, and self came to be integrated in popular American depictions of utopia during the Cold War. By making this leap from political theory to popular culture, my thesis contributes to the study of neoliberalism as an interdisciplinary project, reaching far beyond the confines of economic thought, and underlines its continuous impact on the popular imagination.

My wider research interests include the history of economic thought, the intertwined histories of the Cold War and the rise of popular mass culture, with a specific focus on the genre of Science Fiction, as well as the long history of neoliberal subjectivity.

From 2020 to 2023 I was a co-founding member of the editorial board of the webinar series “Conversations on New Histories of Capitalism” based at the EUI and supported by the ERC-funded project ECOINT. From 2015 to 2016 I was an  editor at Global Histories: A Student Journal as well as an organizer at the annual Global History Student Conference, both based at Humboldt University and Free University of Berlin.

Prior to my arrival at the EUI as a PhD Researcher, I completed an M.A. in Global History, jointly administered by Humboldt University and Free University of Berlin. As part of the program, I spent a year abroad at Vanderbilt University. Before that, I obtained a B.A. in North American Studies from the John-F.-Kennedy-Institute at Free University of Berlin. During my B.A.-program, I spent a semester abroad at the University of California, Santa Cruz.