Emma Kuby

Position title: Assistant Professor of History

Email: emma.kuby@wisc.edu

Phone: 608.262.4243

Office: 5126 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 5009 Mosse Humanities
Office Hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:30pm and by appointment in 5126 Mosse Humanities

Emma Kuby headshot


I am an intellectual, political and cultural historian of modern France and its empire. To date, my research has focused on the legacies of World War II’s violence during the era of decolonization. My first book, Political Survivors: The Resistance, the Cold War, and the Fight against Concentration Camps after 1945, examined a French-led activist campaign by Nazi camp survivors to expose ongoing crimes against humanity in the postwar USSR, Francoist Spain, Maoist China, French Algeria, and beyond. It showed that the project championed by these non-state actors — centered not on genocide but on concentration camps as sites of political repression — helped foster a universalist paradigm for defending human rights but foundered on the limits of members’ own memory politics, the ideological pressures of the Cold War, and an inability to adapt to new forms of European violence in the context of decolonizing warfare. The book received the George Louis Beer Prize from the American Historical Association, the David H. Pinkney Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies, and the Council for European Studies Book Award.

My current book project, The Outsider Turned Ambassador: American Jews, Holocaust Memory, and Tensions of Empire in Postwar France, reconstructs the ephemeral community of Jewish American expatriates who lived and worked in France and its empire after 1945, and tells the story of their efforts to grapple with the violent legacies of the Second World War in a context of French domestic conflict and colonial crisis. As these writers, scholars, bureaucrats, journalists, NGO staffers, and politicians helped establish France as the headquarters for diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to rebuild a ravaged continent in the wake of catastrophe, they also made it the unexpected focus of a post-Holocaust, early Cold War intellectual quest to reclaim Europe as a site of “Western civilization” — and to redefine themselves as consummate transatlantic mediators of Western liberal values.

My teaching interests include modern Europe and modern France; colonialism and decolonization; war, atrocity, and post-conflict reconstruction; transnational activism; Jewish history; intellectual history; and gender and sexuality


Ph.D., Cornell University
M.A., Cornell University
B.A., Brown University


Videos & Podcasts

Selected Publications

  • “‘The Last Act in the Tragedy of Judaism’: Stalinist Antisemitism, the American Jewish Committee, and French Holocaust Memory in the Cold War.” Jewish Social Studies, forthcoming.
  • “‘Slavery Old and New’: Cold War Liberals in the Global Forced Labor Debate, 1947-1954.” In Cold War Liberalism: Power in a Time of Emergency, edited by Daniel Bessner and Michael Brenes. New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • “Madame Right for Monsieur Wrong: Prisoner Marriage Petitions and State Surveillance of Women in Postwar France, 1946-1959.” Gender & History 34, no. 2 (July 2022): 476-494.
  • What Counts as a Concentration Camp?History Today 69, no. 9 (September 2019).
  • Survivors against Concentration Camps,” Dissent, July 2019.
  • “From Auschwitz to Algeria: The Mediterranean Limits of the French Anti-Concentration Camp Movement, 1952-1959.” In French Mediterraneans: Transnational and Imperial Histories, edited by Patricia M.E. Lorcin and Todd Shepard, 347-371. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016.
  • “‘Our Actions Never Cease to Haunt Us’: Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre, and the Violence of the Algerian War.” Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques 41, no. 3 (Winter 2015): 59-78.
  • “In the Shadow of the Concentration Camp: David Rousset and the Limits of Apoliticism in Postwar French Thought.” Modern Intellectual History 11, no. 1 (April 2014): 147-173.
  • “From the Torture Chamber to the Bedchamber: French Soldiers, Anti-War Activists, and the Discourse of Sexual Deviancy in the Algerian War (1954-1962).” Contemporary French Civilization 38, no. 2 (Summer 2013): 131-153.
  • “A War of Words over an Image of War: The Fox Movietone Scandal and the Portrayal of French Violence in Algeria, 1955-56.” French Politics, Culture & Society 30, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 46-67.

Selected Awards

  • George Louis Beer Prize, American Historical Association, 2020 (for Political Survivors)
  • Council for European Studies Book Award, 2020 (for Political Survivors)
  • David H. Pinkney Prize, Society for French Historical Studies, 2020 (for Political Survivors)
  • Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, Northern Illinois University, 2018

History Courses

  • History 120 – Europe in the Modern World, 1815-Present
  • History 201 – Europe in 1945: Year Zero?
  • History 358 – French Revolution and Napoleon
  • History 392 – Women and Gender in Modern Europe
  • History 710 –  Dissertation Writing Workshop