Matthew Specter is an intellectual historian of modern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is the author of two monographs: The Atlantic Realists: Empire and International Political Thought Between Germany and the United States(Stanford UP, 2022) and Habermas: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge UP, 2010). Since 2014, he has served as Associate Editor of the leading international journal in the theory of history, History & Theory. A native of New York City, he was educated at Harvard, Brown (BA magna cum laude) and Duke, earning the Ph.D. in History from Duke in 2006.
His research has three main foci: the first concerns the history of international political thought in the 19th and 20thcenturies, especially concerning the realist, liberal, and Marxist traditions, transatlantic connections between Europe and the US, the role of race, gender and empire in international relations theory, the politics of world order, and war and peace in contemporary social thought. The second is on German intellectual history in the 20th century, especially social, political and legal theory, including that of Carl Schmitt, the Frankfurt School, and Jürgen Habermas. His third area of research is contemporary democratic theory, and the resurgence of neofascism and so-called right-wing ‘populism’ in the global North, including the “America First” movement in the 20th and 21st centuries.
His articles and reviews have been published in History & Theory, Modern Intellectual History, Constellations, Central European History, the Journal of Modern History, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is also a contributor to three edited volumes: The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt (Oxford UP 2016), Fascism in America: Past and Present(Cambridge UP, under review), and the Handbuch der Kritische Theorie (Metzler, forthcoming 2022).
His research has been supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the American Council on Germany, the Institute for the Human Sciences in Vienna, the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt am Main), the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (Vienna), the Center for Humanities at Wesleyan University, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 2011, he was honored with the Central Connecticut State University’s Board of Trustees Award for outstanding accomplishments in research.
Since 2017 he has taught in various programs at UC Berkeley: History, Political Economy, Global Studies and Legal Studies. His courses have ranged from the global history of decolonization and the Cold War, to European film and history since 1945, to the comparative history of populism and fascism in the US and Europe. Before coming to Berkeley, he was Associate Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University (2008-17), responsible for modern German and modern European intellectual history. He has also taught in the History departments at Stanford, Santa Clara, George Mason and Duke.