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I am a historian of modern and contemporary Europe, with a focus on cultural and transnational history. I am interested in the dynamics between politics and culture, the history of tourism, urban history, visual studies, the representation and uses of the past, literature, and heritage and memory studies. In my research, I focus on post Second World War US tourism to Europe and the creation of 'the West' as cultural identity.
Before coming to Cornell, I was a Junior Fellow at the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies, and worked as a Research Assistant for the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Amsterdam.
My dissertation project investigates the impact of US tourism in Western Europe on the establishment of the postwar (1945-1965) idea of 'the West' as cultural identity. During the early Cold War period, US policymakers applied tourism as a political tool to propagate modernization, capitalist internationalism, technical progress and the consumer citizen, creating a cultural justification for an alliance between Europe and the United States. North Americans perceived themselves as heirs to a particular Western culture, for which they combined elements of European history with US models of consumerism and production into what they started to perceive and practice as a shared common identity: ‘the West’. Within this process, ‘Western civilization’ was debated and reconstructed on a political and cultural level by policymakers, local stakeholders and tourists, referring to both cultural heritage as (political) ideals for the future.
In my research, I examine the political, economic and cultural activities of policymakers and European, national and local institutions as well as the interplay between the tourism industry and tourist experiences and practices, with an emphasis on Rome, Berlin and Amsterdam. By analyzing for example statistics, minutes of meetings and advertisements from the tourism industry, and guidebooks, travel writing and travel magazines, photography and film, I will show how the postwar idea of 'the West' was created through the lens of tourism.
My committee members are Enzo Traverso (Chair) and Claudia Verhoeven.