Twentieth-century urbanism; architecture, race, memory, and violence; United States, Germany, Japan
Sebastian Schmidt is a historian of urbanism and architecture with a focus on the United States, Germany, and Japan during and since WWII. Drawing on his background in media and cultural studies, Schmidt’s research and teaching focuses on the history and theory of architecture and urbanism from a global and interdisciplinary perspective, integrating interests in art history, gender, race, and critical theory.
Schmidt is currently working on a book manuscript that expands on the research done for his dissertation, tentatively titled Global War, Race, and the City: How WWII Shaped Urbanism in New York, Berlin, and Tokyo. His project positions the global and racial nature of WWII as a shaping force of urbanism—with important consequences for the methodologies of postwar urban history. Based on evidence from urban policy, planning, architecture, and art, Schmidt investigates the urbanism of New York, Berlin, and Tokyo to challenge the notion that economic globalization alone made cities global. Instead, this work positions the postwar city as a response to global infrastructures and racial ideologies, and contributes to an understanding of the complex relationship between WWII and urbanism.
Before joining Rice University, Schmidt completed his Ph.D. in the History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture and Art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and held a fellowship in the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard University.