Paul Lennart Sprute
Research Associate | Contemporary History and Archive

Since 2020 Paul Sprute is a research associate in the junior research group Histories of the Built Environment in the research area Contemporary History and Archive. Between 2020 and 2023, Paul Sprute worked in the "Freigeist" research project "Conquering (with) Concrete: German Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts" on his PhD thesis "Harbouring Globalisation" on post-colonial projects of port constructions in West Africa built by German construction companies. Since 2024, Paul Sprute is researcher in the research project "Constructing Transport Architecture in West Africa: A multiscalar history of materialities, territories and actors" in cooperation with the Universiteit Gent and the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan.

Paul Sprute graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the Universität Bremen and holds a master’s degree in Global History from the Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In his master’s thesis, he researched the afterlife of the GDR’s international solidarity in the activities of the association Solidaritätsdienst International.

Projects

Ongoing Third-party Funded Projects

Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon. Our project investigates how major German construction companies conquered markets and spaces, thereby cementing their presence in different regions of the Global South, and it will trace the footprints left behind, long after the dust of the construction sites settled. It draws on the observation that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the built environment in these regions without acknowledging and analysing the role of construction companies such as HOCHTIEF AG or Bilfinger Berger as actors, stakeholders, transnational legal entities and major driving forces in the processes of globalised construction business. more info

Selected Publications by Year

2023
Sprute, P. L. (2023). Settlements of Post-Socialist Development? Reconstructing East German Solidarity through Housing Projects in the Global South after 1990. In M. Motylinska, C. Bernhardt, & A. Butter (Eds.), Between Solidarity and Economic Constraints: Global Entanglements in Architecture and Planning in the Cold War Period (pp. 241-266). (Rethinking the Cold War; Vol. 12). De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110658491-011
2022
Sprute, P. (2022). Rezension zu: Beese, Sebastian: Experten der Erschließung. Akteure der deutschen Kolonialtechnik in Afrika und Europa 1890–1943. Paderborn 2021. H-Soz-u-Kult. https://www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/reb-98206
Sprute, P. (2022). “From the Pit to the Port”: Navigating the Bong Mining Company Site in Liberia Through a Children’s Drawing. Architecture Beyond Europe, (20). https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.13347
2021
Sprute, P. L. (2021). Ariane Komeda, Kontaktarchitektur: Kolonialarchitektur in Namibia zwischen Norm und Übersetzung. Architecture Beyond Europe, (18). https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.9939
Sprute, P. L. (2021). Diaries of Solidarity in the Global Cold War: The East German Friendship Brigades and their Experience in ‘Modernizing’ Angola. In E. Burton, A. Dietrich, I. R. Harisch, & M. C. Schenck (Eds.), Navigating Socialist Encounters: Moorings and (Dis)Entanglements between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War (pp. 293-318). (Africa in Global History; No. 2). De Gruyter. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110623543-012/pdf
2020
Sprute, P. L. (2020). Die Nachleben der Solidarität: Ideen und Praktiken des »Solidaritätsdienst International« im vereinigten Deutschland. Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, (60), 261-280. https://www.fes.de/afs/baende#c209742
Sprute, P. L. (2020). "Daß ich die Kraft zur Solidarität noch habe...". Weitwinkel, 3(1), 21-22. https://www.sodi.de/fileadmin/sodi_files/publikationen/weitwinkel/WEITWINKEL_2020_1.pdf

Selected Publications by Type

Journal Article
Sprute, P. (2022). “From the Pit to the Port”: Navigating the Bong Mining Company Site in Liberia Through a Children’s Drawing. Architecture Beyond Europe, (20). https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.13347
Sprute, P. L. (2020). Die Nachleben der Solidarität: Ideen und Praktiken des »Solidaritätsdienst International« im vereinigten Deutschland. Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, (60), 261-280. https://www.fes.de/afs/baende#c209742
Contribution to Anthology
Sprute, P. L. (2023). Settlements of Post-Socialist Development? Reconstructing East German Solidarity through Housing Projects in the Global South after 1990. In M. Motylinska, C. Bernhardt, & A. Butter (Eds.), Between Solidarity and Economic Constraints: Global Entanglements in Architecture and Planning in the Cold War Period (pp. 241-266). (Rethinking the Cold War; Vol. 12). De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110658491-011
Sprute, P. L. (2021). Diaries of Solidarity in the Global Cold War: The East German Friendship Brigades and their Experience in ‘Modernizing’ Angola. In E. Burton, A. Dietrich, I. R. Harisch, & M. C. Schenck (Eds.), Navigating Socialist Encounters: Moorings and (Dis)Entanglements between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War (pp. 293-318). (Africa in Global History; No. 2). De Gruyter. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110623543-012/pdf
Contribution to Special Interest Journal
Review in Journal
Sprute, P. (2022). Rezension zu: Beese, Sebastian: Experten der Erschließung. Akteure der deutschen Kolonialtechnik in Afrika und Europa 1890–1943. Paderborn 2021. H-Soz-u-Kult. https://www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/reb-98206
Sprute, P. L. (2021). Ariane Komeda, Kontaktarchitektur: Kolonialarchitektur in Namibia zwischen Norm und Übersetzung. Architecture Beyond Europe, (18). https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.9939

Talks

2023
Made in Germany? Julius Berger Nigeria PLC as a Prism for Myths and Materialities of German Construction Projects in Nigeria

German Studies Association Annual Conference

October/05/2023
Montréal, Montréal, Canada

Harbouring Globalizations: Projects of Post-Colonial Port Constructions and Hinterland Connections in West Africa

April/19/2023

Agents of neocolonialism?

International Congress on Colonial and Postcolonial Landscapes

January/20/2023
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lissabon, Portugal

2022
The Dispersed Archive of Bong Mining and Historiographical Silences Between Liberia and Germany

From Archival Pasts Towards Archival Futures: Epistemologies, Decolonization and (Dis-)Placement

November/12/2022
Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

Submerged Agencies: Concrete Port Constructions in the First Half of the 20th Century Between Material Demands and Contractors’ Interests

Producción de infraestructura

November/03/2022
Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Materiality and Constructability of the Subway in Buenos Aires (1933–1944)

Materiality and the History of Infrastructure

July/20/2022
Herrenhausen Symposium, Hannover, Germany

Settlements of Post-Socialist Development: Reconstructing East German Solidarity through Housing Projects in the Global South after 1990

Between Trade and Aid

July/01/2022
SFP 1199 Processes of Globalization under the Global Condition, Leipzig, Germany

The (Eastern European) Afterlives of East German Solidarity: The Solidaritätsdienst International and its Re-Interpretation of East German Socialist Internationalism

Comparing Cultures of Solidarity

June/21/2022
Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Channelling the Oil Boom through Tin Can Island: The Port Constructions of Julius Berger in Nigeria

Research Seminar "Conquering (with) Concrete: German Construction Companies as Local Players in Global Contexts"

June/08/2022
Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

2021
Materialities of the Construction Process: International Contractors and the Subway in Buenos Aires

Material Assemblages

December/17/2021
Herrenhausen Palace, Hannover, Germany

Cementing the Ties: ZAB, CMEA and the Architecture of Multilateralism in Syria and Ethiopia

EAHN Conference 2021

June/05/2021
Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

(Re)Constructing German Colonial Capitalism from its Margins: German Companies in Liberia

Colonial Capitalism in Action

May/05/2021
Universität Hamburg, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hamburg, Germany

2020
German Construction Companies and their Port Constructions between the Global and the Local

November/05/2020

News
February/28/2021
Interview with the IRS Junior Research Group Leaders Jana Kleibert and Monika Motylinska

The IRS currently hosts two junior research groups funded by prestigious programmes. Urban and economic geographer Jana Kleibert has been researching how higher education is marketed in international "branch campuses" with her Leibniz Junior Research Group "Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education" (TRANSEDU) since 2018. Architectural historian Monika Motylinska and her junior research group "Conquering (with) Concrete", funded by the Volkswagen Foundation's Freigeist Programme, have been investigating what German construction companies contributed to the globalisation of architecture in the 20th century since the beginning of 2020. In the interview, the two researchers reflect on the current state of their research groups' work and explain how they are dealing with the challenges of the Corona pandemic. more info