Dr Emma Mackinnon is University Assistant Professor in the History of Modern Political Thought in the Faculty of History and a Fellow of Emmanuel College. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago, with a certificate in Human Rights Studies. She also holds an AM from University of Chicago and an AB in Social Studies from Harvard. Before taking up her current post in the History Faculty, she was a Junior Research Fellow at Emmanuel College from 2017 to 2020.

Her work has been published in Political Theory and Humanity and in the volumes Time, History, and Political Thought (Cambridge University Press 2023), The Blackwell Companion to ArthurDanto (Wiley Blackwell 2022), and Contingency in the Course of International Law (Oxford University Press 2021), and is forthcoming in Volume 5: The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries of The Cambridge World History of Rights (Cambridge University Press) and in The Oxford Handbook of Cosmopolitanism (Oxford University Press).


Emma’s teaching and research is in the history of political thought, with a focus on the twentieth century to the present. She has broader research interests in contemporary political theory, histories of human rights and humanitarianism, anticolonialism, international law, and the relationship between history and politics.

She is currently working on two book manuscripts. One concerns claims on the legacies of the American Declaration of Independence in mid-twentieth century debates over race and equality in the US. It tracks the construction of a discourse of an American promise, domestically and internationally, after World War II, and efforts to mobilise a critique of American hypocrisy alongside that notion of a promise. The second concerns claims on 1789 and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen as part of debates over empire and decolonisation in France and Algeria in the same time period, including debates over international law, sovereignty, and human rights.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk