Top of page
Skip to main content
Main content

Alexander L. ComptonGraduate Student

I am a doctoral candidate and scholar of modern German, European, and global history, who specializes in Black German and Black European studies as well as the study of race, gender, sexuality, empire, decolonization, and migration broadly conceived.

My dissertation critically examines the integration of African, Asian, and Latin American students and workers in divided Germany between 1949 and 1975. I seek to understand how the concept of integration became a cornerstone of local and global debates about what it meant to achieve universal equality in the wake of the Second World War and formal decolonization. The belief that national interests supersede the individual rights of “foreigners,” my dissertation argues, received international recognition at a time when East and West Germany sought to reassert their national sovereignty by supporting competing forms of European dominance over African, Asian, and Latin American communities at home and abroad. In pursuing these goals, I suggest, both German states portrayed integration as an objective tool for measuring whether universal legal equality would encourage streams of migration at odds with their national interests and visions of international development. My dissertation also traces how institutions tasked with researching and managing the integration of African, Asian, and Latin American migrants in Germany stigmatized race as a pathological mindset, which bred socio-economic and political instability and violated postwar European notions of democracy and equality. Building on this analysis, I show how East and West German institutions justified practices of racial disenfranchisement in the name of combating “destabilizing” forms of globalization; namely, those threatening to erode the socio-economic, legal, and political boundaries of race left over from European colonialism.

My research has been supported generously by grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Central European History Society (CEHS), the American Historical Association (AHA), and the Santander Consumer Bank AG. I also received the Blair Rogers Major and James Russell Major Award for the most promising student writing a dissertation in the history of Europe and European expansion.


  • A.A. Bluegrass Community and Technical College, 2015
  • B.A. in History, University of Kentucky, 2018
  • B.A. in German Studies, University of Kentucky, 2018
  • M.A. in History, Emory University, Summer 2021

Research Interests

Modern German and European History
Migration and Diaspora Studies
Black German / European Studies
Race, Gender, and Sexuality
Colonialism, Decolonization, and Postcolonial Studies

Dissertation Title

"Rights of Belonging: Race, Integration, and the Global Politics of Development in Postwar Germany, 1949-1975"

Faculty Advisors

Astrid M. Eckert
Tehila Sasson
Didem Uca
Michelle M. Wright