Dr Celia Donert

Associate Professor in Central European History
Fellow of Wolfson College

My research focuses on the history of contemporary Europe, particularly Central Europe. I received my PhD from the European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy, after studying at Oxford University and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London. Before arriving in Cambridge in 2019, I taught for seven years at the University of Liverpool, where I was promoted to Professor in 2018. I have been a Visiting Professor in the History of Human Rights and Democracy at the University of Vienna, a visiting fellow at the Global History Department, Free University, Berlin, and have held fellowships at the ZZF in Potsdam,  the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, the ÉHÉSS in Paris, the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, and the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

I am one of the editors (with Martin Conway and Kiran Patel) of a new book series published by Cambridge University Press, entitled European Histories of the Present. 

I am co-editor of Contemporary European History and an editorial board member of the Journal of Contemporary HistorySocial History, and Historický časopis. I am also a convener of the Rethinking Modern Europe seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, and a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

From 2021, I am Director of Research (Projects) for the History Faculty. At Part I, I convene Paper 18; at Part II, I convene a Specified Subject on Central Europe in the Global Twentieth Century. I also teach an MPhil optional paper on migration and displacement in twentieth-century Central Europe. 

I am also Director of Studies in History & Politics, History & Modern Languages, and History (Part II) at Wolfson College.

I work on contemporary European history, with a focus on transnational approaches to East Central Europe, socialism, gender, nationalism, and the history of human rights. My first book explored the history of Romani struggles for citizenship in 20th century Czechoslovakia. From 2017-19 I held two AHRC research grants as principal investigator. One was an AHRC research network on the Legacies of the Romani Genocide in Europe since 1945, which held conferences at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, the Musée national de l'histoire de l'immigration in Paris, and the Wiener Holocaust Library in London. The other was an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship called How Women's Rights became Human Rights: Gender, Socialism, and Postsocialism in Global History, 1917-2017. This is the subject of my current book project, the research for which has also been supported by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, the Zentrum fur Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam, and a British Academy small grant.

From 2021, I am leading a three-year workshop series on The Rise and Fall of Liberal Internationalism, with Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann and Michal Kopeček, generously funded by the Cambridge DAAD hub.

I supervise Masters and PhD students in contemporary European history, the history of human rights, feminism, and global socialism. I am currently supervising doctoral work in these areas, funded by the AHRC, an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in cooperation with The Wiener Holocaust Library in London, and the Gates Trust, as well as post-doctoral researchers funded by the EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship, the British Academy Newton International Fellowship and ESRC postdoctoral fellowship.


Tags & Themes


Wolfson College, Barton Road
Cambridge CB3 9BB

01223 767464


Key Publications

The Rights of the Roma. The Struggle for Citizenship in Postwar Czechoslovakia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017). Czechoslovak Studies Association Book Prize 2019. Finalist, Wiener Library Ernst Fraenkel Prize 2018. Czech translation forthcoming with Academia, 2022.

The Legacies of the Romani Genocide in Europe since 1945, edited with Eve Rosenhaft (London: Routledge, 2022)

Women's Rights and Global Socialism: Gendering Socialist Internationalism during the Cold War, editor, Special Issue of International Review of Social History (vol 67, issue 30, 2022)

Making Sense of Dictatorship: Domination and Everyday Life in East Central Europe since 1945, edited with Ana Kladnik and Martin Sabrow (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2022)

'"Since Makarenko the Time for Experiments Has Passed: Peace, Gender and Human Rights in East Berlin during the 1980s', in Donert, Kladnik and Sabrow, Making Sense of Dictatorship: Domination and Everyday Life in East Central Europe since 1945 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2022), 153-176

"Women, Work and Value in Postwar Europe: Introduction", Maud Bracke, Rebecca Clifford, Celia Donert, Ruth Glynn, Josie McLellan, Selina Todd, Contemporary European History 28:4 (November 2019), 449-453.

‘Feminism, Communism, and Global Socialism, 1968-1995: Encounters and Entanglements’, in Juliane Fürst, Silvio Pons, Mark Selden (eds) The Cambridge History of Communism vol. 3 (CUP, 2017).

‘From Communist Internationalism to Human Rights: Gender, Violence and International Law in the WIDF Mission to North Korea, 1951’, Contemporary European History 25:2 (2016), 313-33.

‘Whose Utopia? Gender, Ideology and Human Rights at the 1975 World Congress of Women in East Berlin’, in Jan Eckel and Samuel Moyn (eds) The Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 68-87

‘Women’s Rights in Postwar Europe: Disentangling Feminist Histories’, Past and Present (Supplement 8), 218 (2013), 180-202.

'Gendering Universalisms in International History', co-written with Janou Glencross, Zeithistorische Forschungen 8 (2011), 451-456

‘Charter 77 and the Roma: Human Rights and Dissent in Socialist Czechoslovakia’, in Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann (ed) Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 191-211

Other Publications

'A (Zoom) Room of One's Own: Gender, History and COVID', in Forum on Central European History in the Age of COVID-19 (ed) Christian Goeschel, Dominique Reill, Lucy Riall, Central European History 54:4 (December 2021)

'Unlocking New Histories of Human Rights in State Socialist Europe: The Role of the COURAGE Collections', written with Zsofia Lorand, Szabina Kerenyi and Orysia Kulick in Balazs Apor, Peter Apor, Sandor Horvath (eds) The Handbook of COURAGE: Cultural Opposition and its Heritage in Eastern Europe (Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2018)

'Frauenrechte und Menschenrechte im Kalten Krieg: Osteuropäischer Frauenrechtsaktivismus zwischen 1945 und 1970’ in Carola Sachse and Roman Birke (eds) Das Geschlecht der Menschenrechte im 20. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag), 129-152. 

'Femmes, communisme et internationalisme. La Fédération démocratique internationale des femmes en Europe centrale (1945-1975)’, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire 196:2 (2015), 119-31.

‘Rivendicando la strade: protesta, identità di genere e vita quotidiana nella Berlino Est degli anni Ottanta,’ in Valentina Lomellini and Antonio Varsori, eds., Dal Sessantotto al crollo del Muro. I movimenti di protesta in Europa a cavallo tra i due blocchi (Milano: FrancoAngeli, 2014), 175-191.

‘The Czech and Slovak Republics’, Social History 37:4 (2012) Special Issue, co-edited with Gordon Johnston.

The Prague Spring and the “Gypsy Question”: A Transnational Challenge to the Socialist State’, in Eduardo Romanos and Hara Kouki (eds.) Protest without Borders: Contentious Politics in Europe since 1945 (New York: Berghahn, 2011), 32-48.

‘Creating “Citizens of Gypsy Origin”: Ethnicity, Planning and Population Control in Socialist Czechoslovakia’, in Christiane Brenner and Martin Schulze Wessel (eds.), Zukunftsvorstellungen und Staatliche Planung im Sozialismus: Die Tschechoslowakei im ostmitteleuropaischen Kontext (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2011), 89-114. 

‘The Struggle for the Soul of the Gypsy: Marginality and Mass Mobilisation in Stalinist Czechoslovakia’, Social History 33:2 (2008), 123-44.