Philip Decker

Graduate Student

Philip Decker is a fourth-year PhD candidate working on German political and cultural history in the twentieth century, with a focus on the country’s external relationships. His dissertation topic explores cultural ties between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, 1933-1941, especially artistic exchange during the Molotov-Ribbentrop period. Research areas include cinema, opera and concert music, tourism, radio broadcasting, and dramatic theater, as well as cultural bureaucracies and their censorship regimes. Philip also holds significant interests in British and Russian émigré fascism, the culture of East Germany, and Germany’s encounter with indigenous peoples of Africa and North America.

Philip earned a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College and an MPhil in International Relations from Lincoln College, University of Oxford. Philip’s prior work in political science dealt with American and Russian soft power in the post-Cold War era. At Oxford, he investigated the history of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty after 1991 and the organization’s struggle to reinvent itself in the absence of the bipolar world system. Philip has additionally studied the penetration of Kremlin-funded news (RT DeutschSputnik) in the media diet of Volga German, ethnic Russian, and Jewish immigrant populations in Germany.

Philip passed his general examinations at Princeton with distinction. His committee consisted of Yair Mintzker (modern German history), Stephen Kotkin (Soviet history), and David Bell (history and theory of revolutions).

Philip’s work has been supported with grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the University of Oxford, Phi Beta Kappa, the Central European History Society (CEHS) and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS). In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, traveling, and watching old movies of the silent era.

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Decker, Philip. “Nazi Germany, The British Union of Fascists, and the Quest for Musical Greatness in Britain.” The English Historical Review (forthcoming, 2024). 

Decker, Philip. “Wagner in Moscow, Glinka in Berlin: An Exchange of Operas during the Molotov-Ribbentrop Years.” German Studies Review 45, no. 3 (October 2022): 429–453.

Decker, Philip. “Screening White Reassurance: Insecurity and Redemption in Four German Africa Films.” Oxford German Studies 51, no. 2 (2022): 161–185.

Decker, Philip. “The ‘other America’ and its performers: pathways to socialism in the DEFA Indianerfilme.” Studies in Eastern European Cinema 12, no. 3 (2021): 197–215.

Decker, Philip. “‘We Show What Is Concealed’: Russian Soft Power in Germany.” Problems of Post-Communism 68, no. 3 (2021): 216–230.

Book Review

Decker, Philip. Review of Cultural Imperialism and the Decline of the Liberal Order: Russian and Western Soft Power in Eastern Europe. By G. Doug Davis and Michael O. Slobodchikoff. Lanham, MD, Lexington Books, 2018. Nationalities Papers 49, no. 3 (2021): 594–96.

Public Interest

Decker, Philip. “Immigrants Are Big Fans of Germany’s Anti-Immigrant Party.” Foreign Policy, January 15, 2020.

Year of Study
Fifth Year
Area of Interest
Art History
Colonialism & Post Colonialism
Cultural History
Film Studies
Foreign Relations
History of World War II
Indigenous History
Native American
Visual Culture
War & Society
Home Department & Other Affiliations
20th Century
Russia and Eurasia