Mark Beirn

Graduate Student in History
Status: Post-Qualification, ABD
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As a doctoral fellow in International Urban History in the Department of History at Washington University in St. Louis, I have focused my research and studies on social and environmental processes of nineteenth and twentieth-century urbanization and urban planning in Germany, the late Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East, as well as East Africa and North America. Over the course of my training I have completed coursework and interdisciplinary seminars within the Office of Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, as well as graduate seminars in Historical Urbanism at the Center for Metropolitan Studies at the Technical University Berlin. My field work and archival research have been supported by grant funding from the DAAD, the U.S. Fulbright Commission, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Office of Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences and the Mellon-funded Divided City Urban Humanities Initiative. A year-long stay at the Free University’s Center for Global History in Berlin, also home to the Global Urban History Project, and a Humanities Center fellowship have also facilitated my research and writing.  

I am currently at work on my dissertation, tentatively entitled “Grounding Mobility: Infrastructure, Empire and Urban Airports in Berlin and Nairobi.” By deploying infrastructure as a conceptual and historical framing device, I aim to move beyond the monumental facades of airport architecture to examine the hierarchy of space within and between airports, and the reification of new national boundaries within urban spaces that blur the distinction between empire and nation-state.

My scholarly interests are situated within four fields: global urban history; world history; empire and colonialism; and the urban and environmental humanities. The key sites of my research have been 20th-century Berlin, Nairobi, Istanbul, and St. Louis, while my teaching examines a broader timeframe from the 18th to the 21st century. I have presented my work at the German Studies Association, the Historical Infrastructures workshop at The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London, the Urban History Association, the European Urban History Association, and the Graduate History Association at Washington University. I also participate in faculty and graduate student reading groups on Place-making and Spatial Theory, the History of the Present, and Wastelands, all at Washington University in St. Louis. For the 2019-20 academic year I serve as chair of the Graduate History Association (GHA).

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  • Washington University
  • MSC: 1062-107-114
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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