Profile of Dr Alexander Sedlmaier

Alexander Sedlmaier
Dr Alexander Sedlmaier
Reader in Modern History
01248 383604
Room T18 Main Arts


Alexander Sedlmaier works on contemporary German, European and North American history. He has been teaching at Bangor University since September 2007. Between 2003 and 2007 he was the AF Thompson Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Wadham College, Oxford. Before coming to the UK, he worked as a researcher and lecturer at the Department of History at Technische Universität Berlin, where he obtained his doctorate in 2000.

Areas of teaching and supervision

Alexander Sedlmaier’s teaching covers modern and contemporary European, German and North American history from 1800 to the present. He is happy to supervise dissertations on most aspects of modern continental Europe and North America, especially on the history of protest and resistance, the politics of war, cultural and social aspects of the Cold War and transatlantic relations.

Courses taught


  • Introduction to Modern History, 1815–1914
  • The United States of America, 1877–1945
  • Consumption and Commerce since 1800
  • Americanisation and Anti-Americanism
  • Anarchism in Europe and America: Movements, Activism and Political Thought in an Age of Centralised Authority (Special Subject)


  • Documents and Sources for Modern History (convenor)
  • Consumerism and Anti-Consumerism in the Cold War
  • War and Protest, 1914–2003

PhD supervision


  • Anna Luepke, An international history of the Biafran War


  • Alisa Miller, Poetry, Politics and Propaganda: Rupert Brooke and ‘Patriotic Poetry’, 1914–1918 (DPhil Oxon, May 2009)

Current research

Alexander Sedlmaier is currently interested in questions of protest, new social movements, war, political violence and consumption. His first book examines transatlantic relations in the era of the First World War. His second book looks at the West German radical Left and the new social movements from the double perspective of the history of consumption and the history of violence.

Current projects

War and Protest, 1914–2011

This project looks at the political means employed by those who, for various reasons, resorted to protest during times of war in the period from the First World War to the Iraq War. In most cases, the challengers embraced alternative means of political articulation due to the established channels of political decision making being controlled by the supporters of the war in question. Case studies illuminate the manifestations of war-time protest in different wars including both the well-known and some of the "forgotten wars": First World War, Spanish Civil War, Second World War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Soviet War in Afghanistan, Falklands War, Kosovo War and Iraq War. The project pursues the objective to articulate the relationship between war and protest and to develop further the debate surrounding war as a channel of cultural, social and political change. It will advance research into the comparative dimension of war-time protest by embedding this investigation in an analytical framework focused on the methods and questions of historical enquiry into social movements, and to give further specificity to the debate on processes of politicisation and depoliticisation with particular focus on the variety of motivations that drove war-time protest beyond just pacifism. This analysis combines methods from the history of protest and social movements, the history of war, the history of political thought as well as film and visual studies. The project provides conceptual tools and evidence on the pre-history of present-day protests, e.g. against U.S. unilateralism in Iraq. Via a number of publications and engagement events, especially in conjunction with public film screenings, it will create impact by intervening in current debates about the repercussions of global warfare and by furthering public awareness of the crucial historical role of war-time protest in the European political heritage.

This research will be published in a monograph by Bloomsbury. The project had a panel at the European Social Science History Conference 2014 in Vienna.

Public Goods vs Economic Interests: Global Perspectives on the History of Squatting

Squatting is currently a global phenomenon. A concomitant of economic development and social conflict, squatting attracts public attention because – implicitly or explicitly – it questions property relations from the perspective of the basic human need for shelter. So far neglected by historical inquiry, squatters have played an important role in the history of urban development and social movements, not least by contributing to change in concepts of property and the distribution and utilization of urban space. An interdisciplinary circle of researchers demonstrates how squatters have articulated their demands for participation in the housing market and public space in a whole range of contexts, and how this has brought them into conflict and/or cooperation with the authorities.

The project examines housing struggles and the occupation of buildings in the Global "North," but it is equally concerned with land acquisition and informal settlements in the Global "South." In the context of the former, squatting tends to be conceived as social practice and collective protest, whereas self-help strategies of the marginalized are more commonly associated with the southern hemisphere. This project’s historical perspective, however, helps to overcome the north-south dualism in research on squatting.

The project was presented at the conference A European Youth Revolt in 1980/81 at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam in May 2014. The project also had a panel at the European Association of Urban Historians 2012 conference in Prague.

Key and recent publications

Book cover for 'Consumption and Violence',204,203,200_.jpg


Articles and chapters:

  • ‘Boycott Campaigns of the Radical Left in Cold-War West Germany’, in David Feldman (ed.), Boycotts: Past and Present (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017, in print)
  • ‘”Squatting means to destroy the capitalist plan in the urban quarters”: Spontis, Autonomists and the struggles over public commodities (1970–1983)’, in Martin Baumeister, Bruno Bonomo and Dieter Schott (eds.), Cities Contested: Urban Politics, Heritage, and Social Movements in Italy and West Germany in the 1970s(Frankfurt: Campus, 2017), pp. 195–211
  • ‘“Unternehmen Entebbe“ 1976: Quellenkritische Perspektiven auf eine Flugzeugentführung’, Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung 22 (2013), pp. 267–289 (with Freia Anders, republished in Markus Mohr (ed.), Legenden um Entebbe: Ein Akt der Luftpiraterie und seine Dimensionen in der politischen Diskussion, Münster: Unrast, 2016, pp. 27–45)
  • ‘The Limits of the Legitimate: The Quarrel over “Violence” between Autonomist Groups and the Authorities’, in Willibald Steinmetz, Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey and Heinz-Gerhard Haupt (eds), Writing Political History Today (Frankfurt: Campus, 2013), pp. 192–218 (with Freia Anders)
  • ‘”1968” as a Catalyst of Consumer Society’, Cultural and Social History 8,2 (2011), pp. 255–274 (with Stephan Malinowski)
  • ‘Konsumkritik und politische Gewalt in der linksalternativen Szene der siebziger Jahre’, in Sven Reichardt und Detlef Siegfried (eds), Das alternative Milieu: Antibürgerlicher Lebensstil und linke Politik in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und Europa 1968–1983 (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2010), pp. 185–205
  • ‘Places of Global Shape: The World of Consumption in Divided Berlin’, in Alexandra Boutros and William Straw (eds), Circulation and the City: Essays on Mobility and Urban Culture (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010), pp. 214–239 (with Barthold Pelzer)
  • ‘Berlin als doppeltes „Schaufenster“ im Kalten Krieg’, in Thomas Biskup and Marc Schalenberg (eds), Selling Berlin: Imagebildung und Stadtmarketing von der preußischen Residenz zur Bundeshauptstadt (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2008), pp. 227–244 (republished in Zeithistorische Forschungen 11,2 (2014), Special edition: West-Berlin,
  • ‘The Consuming Visions of Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Anarchists: Actualising Political Violence Transnationally’, European Review of History/Revue Européenne d’Histoire 14,3 (2007), pp. 283–300
  • ‘“1968“ als Katalysator der Konsumgesellschaft. Performative Regelverstöße, kommerzielle Adaptionen und ihre gegenseitige Durchdringung’, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 32,2 (2006), pp. 238–267 (with Stephan Malinowski)
  • ‘Berlin's Europa-Center (1963–65): Americanization, Consumerism, and the Uses of the International Style’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute 38 (2005), Supplement 2: From Manhattan to Mainhattan: Architecture and Style as Transatlantic Dialogue, 1920–1970 (German Historical Institute, Washington D.C., 2005), pp. 87–99 (