Martina Schaefer

Visiting Fellow

German Historical Institute Washington
1607 New Hampshire Ave NW | Washington DC 20009

Biographical Summary

Martina Schaefer is a Visiting Doctoral Fellow at the German Historical Institute. A scholar of modern U.S. history, she specializes in African American History, particularly the Black Liberation Struggle. Before returning to academia to work towards her PhD at Vanderbilt University in 2016, she worked for a non-profit organization that focuses on professional development for underserved youth in Berlin, Germany. She earned her M.A. in North American Studies, Modern History, and Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin in 2013. Her Master’s Thesis analyzed the re-naming of two U.S. streets in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the actions that led to the later reversal of the name changes. She argues that the racial politics involved in citizen's groups historical and economic arguments led to the reversal of the name. While at the GHI, she will be working on her dissertation, which centers the work of activists who started organizing during the Black Power era and subsequently initiated into African Diasporic religions like Lucumí and Haitian Vodou. It seeks to understand the activists’ motives for adopting these religions and examines the effects their religious practices had on their approaches to communal liberation.

Main Areas of Interest

  • History of 20th Century North America
  • The Civil Rights and Black Power Movements
  • African American and African Diasporic Religions
  • Legal History
  • Hip Hop and Urban Culture
  • Urban History