Swett, Pamela E. 1970–

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Swett, Pamela E. 1970–

(Pamela Swett)


Born June 18, 1970. Education: Brown University, graduated; Brown University, Ph.D.


Office—Department of History, McMaster University, Chester New Hall 619, 1280 Main St. W., Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L9, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, historian, editor, and educator. McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, assistant professor of history.


Joukowsky Family Dissertation Award for Distinguished Thesis in the Social Sciences, Brown University, 1999. Recipient of research grants from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Neighbors and Enemies: The Culture of Radicalism in Berlin, 1929-1933, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor, with Jonathan R. Zatlin and S. Jonathan Wiesen) Selling Modernity: Advertising in Twentieth-Century Germany, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2007.


Pamela E. Swett is a writer, historian, and educator at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. There, she serves as an assistant professor of history. Swett teaches courses in twentieth-century German and European gender and cultural history, noted a biographer on the McMaster University History Department Web site. She attended Bryn Mawr College as an undergraduate and completed her Ph.D. at Brown University.

In Neighbors and Enemies: The Culture of Radicalism in Berlin, 1929-1933, Swett "argues that the violence and political radicalism of the years between the onset of the Great Depression and the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 were indeed different from those that accompanied the birth of the Weimar Republic out of the ruins of the monarchy and the fires of the First World War," commented Young-Son Hong in the Journal of Modern History. Swett demonstrates how "confrontation and violence between rival political militias in Berlin contributed to the dissolution of the Weimar Republic," noted Peter C. Caldwell, writing in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. She also "argues that cultural norms and power structures in Berlin's neighborhoods disintegrated under the corrosive impact of mass unemployment," noted American Historical Review critic Richard J. Evans. Swett considers how the influence of the radical workers and others helped to contribute to the downfall of the Weimar Republic, even though the workers did not deliberately set out to destroy it. "Rather, they were simply trying to protect their local communities in the face of the incapacity of the central authority to protect it. In doing so, they produced a local context which rendered political violence acceptable and, thus, further helped the arrival of the Nazis," commented Martin Larose in the Canadian Journal of History. Among her other points in the book, Swett "provides an excellent discussion of the ways in which the Depression eroded male work-centered cultures and dissolved the ordering sense of time as well as the meaning and purpose that these cultures provided," reported David F. Crew in the Journal of Social History. "A prodigious researcher, [Swett] draws on archival materials, contemporary newspapers and pamphlets, and interviews to craft a story of gender and intergenerational tensions among families, neighbors, and the political organizations that represented them," remarked Richard V. Pierard, writing in History: Review of New Books.

"Thoroughly researched, clearly argued, and well written, Neighbors and Enemies is one of the best works on the social and political history of the Weimar Republic to appear in recent years," Hong concluded. Larose called Neighbors and Enemies a "fascinating book which easily re-creates the atmosphere of Berlin's streets in the imagination of both non-specialists and specialists of German history. It is, thus, a highly recommended reading." Neighbors and Enemies "is a thoughtful and innovative study that exemplifies a number of recent trends in cultural-historical method and argumentation and effectively raises themes of abiding historical significance in ways that warrant constructive engagement," remarked reviewer Dennis Sweeney in German Politics and Society. Pierard called Swett's book a "brilliant and incisive study."

Among Swett's academic research interests are the history and culture of advertising in Nazi-era Germany. She is the editor, with Jonathan R. Zatlin and S. Jonathan Wiesen, of Selling Modernity: Advertising in Twentieth-Century Germany, a book that examines the effects of advertising within the context of an extreme environment ravaged by war, dictatorship, political upheaval, and economic collapse. The book's contributors address a wide variety of topics covering advertising in prewar and post-Nazi twentieth century Germany. Among the subjects of the book's essays are the similarities between advertising and Nazi propaganda; the growth of capitalism following the rise of advertising in Germany in the late 1890s; the postwar exploits of an entrepreneur who dealt in erotica; efforts by airline Lufthansa to convince travelers to return to a country associated with war and the darkest of evil; racial elements of Nazi-era marketing of Coca-Cola; and more. The book provides insight not only into the advertising, but into the lives and motivations of the many copywriters, artists, executives, researchers, salespeople, and others who brought that advertising into existence.



American Historical Review, December, 2005, Richard J. Evans, review of Neighbors and Enemies: The Culture of Radicalism in Berlin, 1929-1933, p. 1619.

Canadian Journal of History, spring-summer, 2006, Martin Larose, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 137.

Central European History, fall, 2005, Conan Fischer, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 677.

Choice, February, 2006, J.R. White, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 1083.

German Politics and Society, winter, 2005, Dennis Sweeney, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 119.

German Studies Review, October, 2006, Ulf Zimmermann, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 679.

History: Review of New Books, winter, 2006, Richard V. Pierard, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 52.

International Review of Social History, April, 2007, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 189.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, spring, 2007, Peter C. Caldwell, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 628.

Journal of Modern History, December, 2006, Young-Sun Hong, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 997.

Journal of Social History, fall, 2006, David F. Crew, review of Neighbors and Enemies, p. 246.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (June, 2005), Corinna Treitel, review of Neighbors and Enemies.

McMaster University History Department Web site, http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/˜history/ (April 22, 2008), faculty profile.