Kelsey L. Norris


Ph.D. Candidate


My dissertation, The Ties That Bind: World War II-Era Population Displacement and the Politics of Family Reunification in the USSR, 1941-1975, investigates the durability of Soviet kinship ties in the context of total war. I explore how millions of Soviet citizens attempted to locate family members with whom they lost contact during the conflict and how the Soviet regime responded to the predicament of war-torn Soviet families. Recent scholarship has analyzed the crisis of wartime family separation in Europe and argued that Western and Central European states considered reuniting fractured biological families as necessary to rehabilitate war-devastated nations. My research shows how the Soviet Union prioritized returning displaced Soviet citizens to overarching Soviet society, rather than to their biological families, and championed a new conception of the Soviet family, as tied by a shared Soviet identity, rather than by blood.

Dissertation Committee Members:

Benjamin Nathans (advisor); Peter Holquist; Amy Offner

Office Hours
T 10:00AM-12:00PM

M.A., History, University of Pennsylvania (2015)

B.A., History and B.A., Slavic Languages & Literature, University of Chicago (2013)

Research Interests

Russian and Soviet History, Population Displacement, Family Politics, The International Cold War

Courses Taught

Instructor: The Cold War: A Global History (HIST135) & Living Under Big Brother: The History of Totalitarianism (Penn Summer Prep Program) 

Teaching Assistant: The Cold War: A Global History (HIST135); The World at War (HIST431); The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (HIST430)