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Research Project

"Men, Motorcycles and Modernity; A Social History of Motorization during the Weimar Republic"

Motorization tangibly altered German society – changing city and landscapes, patterns of circulation of people, goods and capital.  Men, Motorcycles and Modernity; Motorization during the Weimar Republic, argues that the socially dynamic and historically specific process of motorization in Weimar Germany, during which there was a numerical superiority of motorcycles in relation to cars, offers a multi-layered basis for exploring the everyday construction of social categories such as urban, rural, class, gender, generation, production, consumption and leisure.  This dissertation, drawing upon methodologies of the everyday, historical anthropology and social histories of technology, challenges standard historiographical interpretations of gender and consumption during the Weimar Republic. Based on an analysis of economic, institutional, juridical and discursive sources, modern man is revealed as an active participant in an emergent consumer society, his masculinity defined not only by what he produced, but also by what and how he consumed. 

Also central to my project is an analysis of how motorization concretely transformed both urban and rural landscapes, as well as how the spatialized place relationship between city and countryside changed discursively.  While on the one hand motorization contributed to homogenizing the imagination and metaphorically shrinking the space of the national landscape, on the other hand, the motor vehicle provided its users the opportunity to explore spaces and personal liberation, free from place-bound constraints.  Motorization also produced everyday conflicts over the right to define how public space was used and over risk and safety.  Although personal motorized transportation held the promise of greater freedom, new forms of control and governance were being developed to monitor and regulate the motorized population.  As Weimar society was in the characteristically ambivalent throes of modernity, social and spatial heterogeneity persisted despite the homogenizing tendencies of the process of motorization.

During my TGK fellowship, I will revise my original dissertation project for publication for a wider audience. In addition, I will expand the scope by analyzing transformations produced in the context of a modernizing and motorizing society from an urban and transnational perspective, in terms of culture and economy, governance and infrastructure. 

Lebenslauf / Curriculum Vitae


Akademische Berufserfahrung  
Dozentin an der New York University Berlin: „Comparative Modern Societies: Politics and Society in 20th Century Germany“  
Januar-Mai 2014
Freischaffende Wissenschaftlerin für die Auto-Uni, Institut für Arbeits- und Personalmanagement (IFAP), Wolfsburg Projekte: Literaturstudie zur „Wandlung im Unternehmensformen – Von der T-Form zu der M-Form“ Unterstützungsarbeit an dem Projekt „Über Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft des Fließbandes in der Automobilproduktion” (Unter die Leitung von Prof. Dr. Ulrich Jürgens und Prof. Dr. Horst Neumann)  
seit Dezember 2013
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin von Professor Bruce Kogut (Columbia University Business School) an seinem Projekt zu betrieblichen Organisationstechnologien und Netzwerken in der Wirtschaft in Deutschland 1890-1940.  
November 2012 – Juli 2013
Gastprofessur “Gender und Stadt”, TU Berlin, Fak. VI, „Planen Bauen Umwelt“: Institut für Soziologie und Fak. I „Geisteswissenschaften“: Fachbereich Historische Urbanistik im Rahmen des Berliner Programms zur Förderung der Chancengleichheit  
Juli 2010- August 2011
Post-Doc, Transatlantisches Graduiertenkolleg, Berlin - New York, Center for Metropolitan Studies, “History and Culture of the Metropolis during the Twentieth Century”  
Mai 2008- April 2010
Ph.D. in Modern European History, New York University   Dissertation: Men, Motorcycles and Modernity; Motorization in the Weimar Republic   Erstbetreuerin: Prof. Mary Nolan (NYU);  Zweitbetreuerin: Prof. Atina Grossmann (Cooper Union); Drittbetreuerin: Prof. Manu Goswami (NYU); LeserInnen: Prof. Linda Gordon (NYU); Prof. Anson Rabinbach (Princeton)  
Mai 2008
BA, Program in History, Program in German Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz    Highest Honors in the Degree of History, Honors in the Degree of German Studies 
März 1997

Publikationen, Vorträge etc. / Publications, Lectures etc.


Thick Space: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Metropolitanism, with D. Brantz and G. Wagner-Kyora (eds.), Berghahn Books, Oxford/New York, forthcoming.

Review of Umbach, M., German Cities and Bourgeois Modernism, 1890-1924. Oxford University Press, 2009, in European History Quarterly, forthcoming.

“The Image of the ‘Tourist Trophy’ and British Motorcycling in the Weimar Republic”, in The International Journal of Motorcycling Studies, Special 100-year-TT-Issue, November 2007. ijms.nova.edu/November2007TT/IJMS_Artcl.Disko.html

Nachwort zum Nachdruck – Abel – Zeitschrift für Sklaverei, Verlag Thomas Franz, Frankfurt am Main, 2001

“Stehend reiten auf zwei Gäulen.  Der Schriftsteller und Anarchist Erich Mühsam,” in Essays.  Schwabing.  Kunst und Leben um 1900, Munich and Tucson, 1998


Adjunct Instructor, “Modern European Social and Political History in Global Context,” The Cooper Union, New York City, Fall Semester 2007

Instructor Summer Session II, “Western Civilization II; The Rise of Modern Europe”, Department of History, New York University, June 2005- August 2005

Research and Teaching Assistant, New York University, Department of History, 2001-2008.

Freelance Editorial Assistant/Translator, June 1999-present

Assistant Curator “Schwabing.  Kunst und Leben um 1900”, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Munich, Germany, June 1997-June 1998


“Joyriding and Drunk Driving; Risk and the Regulation of Motorization During the Weimar Republic,” Prospective Students’ Weekend, History Department, New York University, February 2008.

“The Image of the ‘Tourist Trophy’ and British Motorcycling in the Weimar Republic”, Upcoming Conference: “The Isle of Man TT Races: Heritage, Place and Spirit” held at Villa Marina, Isle of Man, May 28th - 30th, 2007.

“Sex in the Sidecar; Motorization, Gender and Sexuality in the Weimar Republic,” History of Women and Gender Seminar, New York University, December 4, 2006.

“Noise and Nerves in the “Roaring” Twenties; Class, Gender and Generational Conflicts between Motorcyclists and other Road-Users During the Weimar Republic;” Tamiment Seminar in the History of the Labor and the Working Class, New York University, April 11, 2006.

“Promoting Motoring, From Pioneers to Global Dominance: The Motorcycle Industry 1885-1933,” Modern European Colloquium, New York University, April 26, 2005.

“Männer und Motorräder, Eine sozio-kulturelle Untersuchung des Habitus der Motorradfahrer während der Weimarer Republik,” Forschungskolloquium des Instituts für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte, Technische Universität, Berlin, July 12, 2004.

“A Dog’s Day; Violence and Ethics in the Motorcycling Community during the Weimar Republic”, Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies Colloquium, Freie Universität, Berlin, June 16, 2004.


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