Padraic Kenney

Professor, Department of History

Professor, International Studies

Department of History

IU, IU Bloomington

Full Biography

My work as a writer and a teacher has been shaped by a desire to understand the dynamics of communist societies, in particular those of Eastern Europe.  I have written on the experience of workers in early Communist Poland, on the gendered nature of anti-communist opposition, on social movements in the fall of communism in Central Europe, and on Eastern Europe’s road from communism. Currently, I am researching a book on political prisoners in the twentieth-century world. In this project, I reach as far back as Poland under Tsarist Russian rule, and as far afield as South Africa and Ireland, to investigate whether there are common experiences in the political prisoner’s cell that might help us to understand this  loneliest of political protests. Courses I teach include several that center on the experience of communism or on political protest, as well as courses in Eastern European and Polish History. I have also taught and written on problems of transnational history, and on the role of historical memory in contemporary politics. A background in sociology, and in Soviet History, informs my work.

Honors and Awards

  • Fulbright-Hays, International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), and American Council of Learned Societies research fellowships, 2005-06.
  • Fulbright Lectureship, Instytut Politologii, University of Wroc³aw, Poland, 2002-2003.
  • August Zaleski Lecturer, Department of History, Harvard University, March 2001.
  • German Marshall Fund research fellowship, 1999-2000.Barbara Heldt Prize of the  Association of Women in Slavic Studies, for best article in Slavic women’s studies, 1999.
  • AAASS/Orbis Book Prize, for “outstanding English-language book on any aspect of Polish affairs,”  1998.
  • National Council for Soviet and East European Research and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars research fellowships, 1997.

Research Interests

  • Modern Eastern European History
  • Communism
  • Political/social History


  • A.B. at Harvard College, 1985
  • M.A. at University of Toronto, 1986
  • Ph.D. at University of Michigan, 1992

Courses Taught

  • History of Poland
  • Eastern European History
  • The World in 1989
  • Political Prisoners in the Modern World



  • Wrocławskie zadymy. Wrocław: ATUT, 2007.
  • The Burdens of Freedom: Eastern Europe Since 1989. London: Zed Books, 2006.
  • Transnational Moments of Change: Europe 1945, 1968, 1989. Co-edited with Gerd-Rainer Horn. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.
  • A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe, 1989. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.
  • Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.


  • “Martyrs and Neighbors: Sources of Reconciliation in Central Europe.” Common Knowledge 13:1 (Winter 2007), 149-69.
  • “The Gender of Resistance in Communist Poland,” The American Historical Review 104:2 (April 1999), 399-425.