Philip Decker


Philip Decker is a third-year PhD candidate in the department. He works on German political and cultural history in the twentieth century, with a focus on the country’s external relationships. His general examination committee consisted of Yair Mintzker (modern German history), Stephen Kotkin (Soviet history), and David Bell (history and theory of revolutions).

Philip’s dissertation topic pertains to the reception of Russian culture in Nazi Germany, 1933-1941, as well as Nazi-Soviet artistic exchange during the Molotov-Ribbentrop period. His research areas include cinema, opera and concert music, radio broadcasting, and theater, as well as cultural bureaucracies and their censorship regimes. Philip also holds significant interests in indigenous studies—especially Germany’s relationship with Native American and African peoples—and German colonialism.

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 Deutsch, Ruptly, Sputnik) in the media diet of Volga German, ethnic Russian, and Jewish immigrant populations in Germany.

Philip’s work has been supported with grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the University of Oxford, and Phi Beta Kappa. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, traveling, and watching old movies of the silent era.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Decker, Philip. “Seeking the British Wagner: The British Union of Fascists, Nazi Germany, and the Quest for Musical Greatness in Britain.” The English Historical Review (forthcoming, 2023).

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