Charlotte Kiechel

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20242025 Forum on Keywords

Charlotte Kiechel


Yale University, 2022

Charlotte Kiechel is a historian of decolonization and European political thought. Her research interests include post-1945 political movements, international law, human rights, and Holocaust memory. She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Humanity, the Journal of Genocide Research, and the Journal of the History of International Law. She is currently at work on her first manuscript, Anticolonial Comparisons: The Politics of Decolonization and Holocaust Memory. In light of the profusion of Holocaust references in relation to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, Anticolonial Comparisons charts a lesser-known history of Holocaust memory. It argues that references to the Holocaust were part of an international anti-imperial discourse in the 1960s and 1970s. Moreover, it shows how the Holocaust was central to how many Europeans mobilized for the peoples and nation-states of the “Third World.” Kiechel is one of the 2024-2025 fellows of the American Council of Learned Societies.

Anticolonial Comparisons: The Politics of Decolonization and Holocaust Memory

In 2023, the term genocide is one of the most universally accepted keywords of moral condemnation. It sparks outrage, invites historical comparisons, and buttresses calls for military intervention. In Eastern Europe, government officials declare that Russia is committing a genocide against the Ukrainian nation. In response to the war in Gaza, commentators debate the applicability of the genocide term. Indeed, although the term genocide does not appear in Raymond Williams’ canonical study, it is central to the moral and political imaginations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. My book project, Anticolonial Comparisons: The Politics of Decolonization and Holocaust Memory, situates the development of the genocide term—as a moral and political cudgel—in the wars and the humanitarian crises of the decolonization era. As historians have well-established, decolonization not only produced a new international order; it also resulted in the appearance of civil wars and genocides in the world’s formerly colonized territories.