Padraic Kenney

Professor, Department of History, on leave 2023-2024

Professor, International Studies

Department of History

  • (812) 855-1923
  • Ballantine Hall 807
    1020 E Kirkwood Ave
    Bloomington, IN47405
  • Office Hours
    M onday
    by appointment
    T uesday
    by appointment
    W ednesday
    by appointment
    Th ursday
    by appointment
    F riday
    by appointment
IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I want to understand how groups of people and individuals without power manage, survive, resist, and protest in hostile environments. I have been particularly interested in the dynamics of communist societies, especially Poland.  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. I have recently completed a book on political prisoners in the modern world, from the mid-nineteenth century to Guantanamo Bay. Research in Poland, South Africa, and Ireland allowed me 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.

Honors and Awards

  • President, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, 2016.
  • 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 (20th century)
  • The World in 1989
  • Prisons and Prisoners
  • Techniques of Contemporary Revolution



  • Dance in Chains: Political Imprisonment in the Modern World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • 1989: Democratic Revolutions at the Cold War's End: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010.
  • 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.


  • “’I felt a kind of pleasure in seeing them treat us brutally.’ The Emergence of the Political Prisoner, 1865–1910.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 54:4 (2012), 863-89.
  • “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.