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Claudia Koonz, Professor Emeritus and Peabody Family Chair

Claudia Koonz
Contact Info:
Office Location:  110 Carr Building
Office Phone:  (919) 684-3941
Email Address: send me a message


PhDRutgers University1969
MAColumbia University1964
BAUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison1962
Research Interests: Contemporary Islamophobia, Nazi racial politics, genocide

Current projects: Ethnic identity formation as manifested in experts', politicians', and feminists' responses to women wearing Muslim headscarves public spaces.

How does it happen that citizens who consider themselves deeply moral can believe that some of their fellow citizens embody a danger so lethal that they must be eliminated? In "The Nazi Conscience," I examined public culture during the so-called normal years of the Third Reich (1933-1939) and identified the key role of popular racial science and expert opinion in convincing mainstream Germans that Jews, homosexuals, Roma (Gypsies) were so "alien" that they scarcely counted as human at all. In my current research I ask similar questions about contemporary Europeans' reactions to Muslim women who wear the headscarf, or "hijab." I am less concerned with fanatics' hate speech than with the subtle prejudices common in generally liberal milieus. Identifying visual and textual representations of the "hijab" in mass-market media, I analyze the production of ethnic panic in countries where immigration is economically essential, but immigrants are culturally marginalized. In my research and courses, I examine the formation of ethnic fears that endow the "us" with the conviction they have been summoned to rid the world of an evil "them."

Areas of Interest:

comparative genocides
history of Nazi racial policies
Gender in historiography of Nazi Germany
gender and ethnic violence


Nazi genocide • hijab • antisemitism • islamophobia • ethnic fundamentalism

Curriculum Vitae
Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

  • Sarah Summers  
  • Willeke Sandler  
  • Joel W. Revill  
  • Sebastian H Lukasik  
  • Jennifer L. Welsh  
  • David Pizzo  
Recent Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. C. Koonz, Agency, Gender, and Race in Nazi Germany, in Gender Politics and Mass Dictatorships: Between Mobilization and Liberation, Korean edition (I can't read the name of the Press), edited by Jie-Hyun Lim and Karen Petrone (Fall, 2010), pp. 61-91, Blackwell will release English ed on Jan 11, 2011, http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/Gender_Politics_and_Mass_Dictatorship/9780230242043#synopsis, ISBN 9788958623052  [abs]
  2. C. Koonz, What Can a Document Tell Us?, edited by David Scrace (2010), Center for Holocaust Studies, University of Vermont (..)
  3. C. Koonz, Hijab: A Word in Motion, in Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon, edited by Anna Tsing and Carol Gluck (2009), Duke University Press, ISBN [ISBN13 978-0-8223-4536-7] [books.php3]
  4. C. Koonz, NEBENSTRANG UND HAUPTSTRÖMUNG:, in Geschlecht in moderner deutschen Geschichte, edited by Karen Hagemann and Jean H. Quataert (2008), Campus, Frankfurt a.M., ISBN 3 593 38 3829
  5. C. Koonz, A Tributary and a Mainstream: Gender, Public Memory, and the Historiography of Nazi Germany, in Gendering Modern German History, edited by Karen Hagemann and Jean H. Quataert (2008), pp. 147-168, Berghahn, Oxford and New York, ISBN 9 781845 45 2070 (www.berghahnbooks.com.)

I have benefited from research support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the German-Marshall Fund, Duke University, the American Council for Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy in Berlin, and the National Humanities Center. Mothers in the Fatherland received several awards: as a finalist for the National Book Award non-fiction nomination, 1987; The Boston Globe-Winship Book of the Year Award, 1987; The Berkshire Conference 1987 Book Award; The Jesuit Honor Society book of the year; and it was one of the New York Times and Liberation's (Paris) best 100 books of 1987 and 1990, respectively.

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