PROF Barbara Keys

PROF Barbara Keys


  • History of human rights
  • History of international relations (human rights, torture, intercultural relations, sports, Olympic Games, human rights in the Soviet Union)
  • History of the Olympics Games; history of sport
  • Personal diplomacy; emotions in diplomacy and negotiation
  • Torture in the 1970s
  • U.S. foreign relations
  • United States history
  • history of Russia and Soviet Union



  • Biography

    Please see Barbara's website at

    Barbara Keys began her teaching career in 2003 after receiving her PhD in History from Harvard University, where she studied under Akira Iriye and Ernest May. Before coming to Melbourne she taught at California State University in Sacramento and was a research fellow at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. She has been a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at UC Berkeley, the Center for European Studies at Harvard, the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung in Berlin, and the Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte in Mainz. Her teaching areas include 20th century international relations, U.S. foreign relations, U.S. history, and the Cold War in global perspective. She is the recipient of the 2010 Stuart Bernath Lecture Prize, awarded by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the University of Melbourne's 2015 Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences for her book Reclaiming American Virtue. She is the 2019 President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.


    Barbara comments on U.S. politics, international human rights issues, and the politics of the Olympic Games. She has written on contemporary debates for The Conversation, Pursuit, and and has appeared on ABC's The Minefield, ABC News 24, Studio10, and various radio news programs.


    Barbara's research interests are broadly in the areas of international human rights, the influence of transnational movements and organizations on international affairs, the role of emotions in history, and the history of sport. Her second book, Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s (Harvard University Press, 2014),    


Member of

  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Member, Membership Committee 2009 - 2011
  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Member, Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Women 2007 - 2010
  • Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association. Treasurer 2006 - 2008


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project, 2017-2021, “Moral Claims in International Sports Events and the Ethics of World Order,” with Roland Burke and Xu Guoqi

    Australian Research Council Discovery Project, 2011-2014, “Making Torture Unthinkable: The International Campaign Against Torture, 1967-1984”   


Education and training

  • Ph.D., Harvard University 2001

Awards and honors

  • Woodward Medal in the Social Sciences and Humanities, 2015
  • Stuart L. Bernath Lecture Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2010



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • I welcome inquiries from research students who are considering pursuing a degree in History and who are interested in writing on topics such as the history of international relations, U.S. foreign relations, U.S.-China relations, Australian foreign relations, human rights, intercultural relations, nongovernmental organisations, the 1970s and 1980s, emotions, and international sports and the Olympic Games. Past and present research students have written on such topics as human rights in Western foreign policy during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the Whitlam government's policy toward the PLO, the Johnson administration's use of intelligence, the origins of international protection of the Antarctic, the 1988 apology to Japanese-Americans for the World War II internment, the intellectual history of American conservatism, religiously based anti-evolutionism, and veterans of the Vietnam War who return to Vietnam.