Rachel Gerber

Graduate Student

Dissertation Title:
Borderlands Empire: Contested Space, Cooperative Governance, and the Formation of Medieval Germany from the Tenth Through the Twelfth Centuries

Rachel Gerber is a doctoral candidate in the History Department. She is currently finalizing her dissertation titled, “Borderlands Empire: Contested Space, Cooperative Governance, and the Formation of Medieval Germany.” The project is an analysis of governance and administration along the borderlands that stretched across the Elbe River between the (Christianized) medieval German Empire and the (largely pagan) Slavic-speaking polities that lined its eastern banks from the 10th through the 12th centuries.

In the modern state system, the development of effective policy approaches to both local and global problems is frequently undermined by the disconnect between expectations of modern governance and the way political and administrative structures operate on the ground. Ms. Gerber’s study of medieval governing practices seeks to develop new entry points for analyzing the mechanics of administration in all periods of history, including the present moment. Its purpose is to step back, suspend the expectations typically imposed on the modern state, and to map the day-to-day operations of a socio-political system functioning entirely in their absence. In doing so, the project seeks to widen the lens commonly applied when assessing policy approaches and their outcomes in ways that expand the view of governance writ large, enabling more pragmatic, contextually rooted understandings of its modern modes and what they require for effective policy development. 

Ms. Gerber holds a BA in Government from Cornell University, an MA in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and MAs in History from the University of Oregon and Princeton University. 

Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Ms. Gerber worked in international policy on issues related to global peace and security, human rights, and social development, including positions at the United Nations and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security (formerly The Stanley Foundation). She was also a volunteer for the United States Peace Corps in Ukraine. 

Degree Year
Year of Study
Seventh Year
Area of Interest
History & Public Policy
International Development
Political History
Social History
Systems Analysis
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