The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named Tara Zahra a 2014 Fellow. She is the fifth faculty member of the University of Chicago Department of History to receive this fellowship, joining Ramón Gutiérrez, 1983; Cornell Fleischer, 1988; Thomas Holt, 1990; and Noel Swerdlow, 1998.
The MacArthur Foundation praised Zahra, a historian of Central and Eastern Europe, for "challenging the way we view the development of the concepts of nation, family, and ethnicity and [for] 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."
Zahra's first book, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900–1948 (Cornell University Press, 2008), is a study of Czech and German nationalist mobilization around children from the Habsburg Empire to the Nazi occupation. According to Zahra, "it argues that indifference to nationalism was a driving force behind escalating nationalist tensions in the Bohemian Lands. Kidnapped Souls also situates Nazi Germanization policies in a longer history of local Czech-German nationalist agitation." Kidnapped Souls was awarded five prizes, including the Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European History, the Hans Rosenberg Prize of the Conference Group for Central European History, and the Barbara Jelavich Prizes of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.
Her second book, The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe's Families after World War II (Harvard University Press, 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, she explores "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 the European International History.
Zahra is currently at work on a history of emigration from East Central Europe to Western Europe and the United States between 1889 and the present, which will be published in 2015.
By Sarah Jones Weicksel, PhD candidate, firstname.lastname@example.org