MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2014

Tara Zahra

Historian of Modern Europe

Professor of East European History, Department of History

University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Age: 38 at time of award

Published September 17, 2014

Tara Zahra is a historian who is challenging the way we view the development of the concepts of nation, family, and ethnicity and painting a more integrative picture of twentieth-century European history. With conceptual and empirical rigor, Zahra’s writings combine broad sociohistorical analysis with extensive archival work across a wide range of locales.

Her first book, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900­–1948 (2008), examines the twentieth-century cultural politics of German and Czech nationalism with children as the centerpiece, demonstrating that the changing concept of who owns children was essential to the definition of national identities. Zahra refocuses our understanding of nationalism and nation-building by exploring the conflicts over raising and educating children in the Bohemian lands in the first half of the twentieth century—from the multiethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire, through the Czechoslovak Republic, the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia, and the postwar Czechoslovak state.

In The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II (2011), Zahra illuminates an essential chapter of the postwar period in Europe—the negotiations over the repatriation of children and the reconstitution of families. Starting with the efforts of rescue groups during the Armenian genocide and the Spanish Civil War, to the Second World War and postwar conflicts over repatriation and appropriate psychological treatment of unaccompanied or orphaned children, she shows that questions about how best to serve children’s interests were in fact an integral part of debates concerning how to rebuild the nation, physically and psychologically, after the devastation of war. Currently engaged in a new project that examines a century of emigration from East Central Europe to Western Europe and the United States, Zahra is entering into important new debates about the notions of individual freedoms and human rights and offering a more transnational understanding of events in twentieth-century Europe.

Tara Zahra received a B.A. (1998) from Swarthmore College and an M.A. (2002) and Ph.D. (2005) from the University of Michigan. She was a fellow with the Harvard Society of Fellows (2005–2007) prior to joining the faculty of the University of Chicago, where she is currently a professor in the Department of History.

Photos

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For More Information

Website: history.uchicago.edu/directory/tara-zahra

Tara Zahra In the Media

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MacArthur Announces Performances, Discussion to Celebrate 35 Years of Iconic Fellowship Program

Most of the events will be open to the public for free or at low cost. Video of many events will be made available online. Read More
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"America, the Not So Promised Land"

The New York Times
Tara Zahra, 2014 MacArthur Fellow
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"The Return of No-Man’s Land"

Foreign Affairs
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"Pocono Mountain Grad Receives Prestigious Fellowship"

Pocono Record
Tara Zahra, 2014 MacArthur Fellow
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21 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All: Meet the 2014 MacArthur Fellows

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"Five Myths About the MacArthur ‘Genius Grants’"

Commentary by Cecilia Conrad originally published in the Washington Post Read More
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Mobility Among Highly Creative People: What Data About MacArthur Fellows Reveal

Data compiled for the first time show that creativity blossoms everywhere; MacArthur Fellows were born in 64 countries, 47 states, and Washington, DC, and they are far more mobile than the general population. Read More