Tara Zahra, University of Chicago

Professor Chicago, Illinois tzahra@uchicago.edu Office: (773) 834-2599

Bio/Research

I am interested in transnational and comparative approaches to the history of modern Europe. The focus of my research and teaching is Central and Eastern Europe (including the Habsburg Empire and successor states and Germany), but I strive to integrate Central Europe into broader histories of Eur...

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Bio/Research

I am interested in transnational and comparative approaches to the history of modern Europe. The focus of my research and teaching is Central and Eastern Europe (including the Habsburg Empire and successor states and Germany), but I strive to integrate Central Europe into broader histories of Europe and the world.

My most recent book is The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World (Norton, 2016). The book explores how debates about and experiences of emigration shaped competing ideals of freedom in Eastern Europe and "the West" over the course of one hundred years. After the Second World War, the "captivity" of East Europeans behind the Iron Curtain came to be seen as a quintessential symbol of Communist oppression. The Iron Curtain was not, however, built overnight in 1948 or 1961. Its foundation was arguably laid before the First World War, when Austrian Imperial officials began a century-long campaign to curtail emigration in the name of demographic power and humanitarian values.

My second book, The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe's Families after World War II (Harvard, 2011), tells the story of Europe's displaced and refugee children in Eastern and Western Europe from 1918 to 1951. Focusing on national and international activism around children after World War II, I explore how the reconstruction of families was linked to the development of new ideals of family, human rights, and democracy in postfascist Europe. The Lost Children was awarded the George Louis Beer Prize from the American Historical Association for European International History.


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