Skip to main content

Professor Barbara Keys

Director of Research / Professor (US History)


AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Director of Research / Professor (US History) in the Department of History +44 (0) 191 33 47211


Barbara Keys is a specialist in U.S. and international history. She began her teaching career in 2003 after receiving her PhD in History from Harvard University. Before coming to Durham, she taught at the University of Melbourne. 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 research and teaching areas include human rights, diplomacy, U.S. foreign relations, U.S. history, and the Cold War in global perspective. She is currently finishing two books, one on anti-torture campaigns since 1945 and one on Henry Kissinger after 1977. Many of her publications can be found at 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 was the 2019 President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Professor Keys welcomes expressions of interest from prospective postgraduate students interested in the history of human rights, 20th century diplomacy, U.S. foreign relations, social movements, emotions, or international sport.

Research interests

  • History of human rights
  • History of emotions
  • History of diplomacy
  • History of international sport
  • Henry Kissinger and Sino-U.S. relations

Esteem Indicators

  • 2019: President: President, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations


Authored book

  • Keys, Barbara (2014). Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s. Harvard University Press.
  • Keys, Barbara (2006). Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s. Harvard University Press.

Chapter in book

  • Keys, Barbara (2016). "Nonstate Actors". In Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, eds. Frank Costigliola and Michael Hogan. Cambridge University Press. 119-134.
  • Keys, Barbara (2016). "’Something to Boast About’ Western Enthusiasm for Carter’s Human Rights Diplomacy". In Reasserting America in the 1970s: U.S. Public Diplomacy and the Rebuilding of America's Image Abroad, eds. Hallvard Hottaker, Giles Scott-Smith, and David Snyder. University of Manchester Press. 229-244.
  • Keys, Barbara (2015). "Emotions in Intercultural Relations". In Asia Pacific in the Age of Globalization, ed. Robert David Johnson. Palgrave Macmillan. 212-220.
  • Keys, Barbara & Burke, Roland (2013). "Human Rights". In The Oxford Handbook of the Cold War, eds. Richard Immerman and Petra Goedde. Oxford University Press. 486-502.
  • Keys, Barbara (2012). "The Early Cold War Olympics: Political, Economic, and Human Rights Dimensions, 1952-1960". In The Palgrave Handbook of Olympic Studies, eds. Helen J. Lenskyj and Stephen Wagg. Palgrave Macmillan. 72-87.
  • Keys, Barbara (2012). “Anti-Torture Politics: Amnesty International, the Greek Junta, and the Origins of the U.S. Human Rights Boom". In The Human Rights Revolution: An International History, eds. Petra Goedde, William Hithcock, and Akira Iriye. Oxford University Press. 201-222.
  • Keys, Barbara (2007). "The Soviet Union, Cultural Exchange, and the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games". In Sport zwischen Ost und West. Beiträge zur Sportgeschichte im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, eds. Arié Malz, Stefan Rohdewald, and Stefan Wiederkehr. Fibre. 131-146.
  • Keys, Barbara (2006). "The 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games and the Postwar International Order". In 1956: European and Global Perspectives, eds. Carole Fink, Frank Hadler, and Tomasz Schramm. Leipziger Universitätsverlag. 293-307.

Edited book

  • Keys, Barbara (2019). The Ideals of Global Sport From Peace to Human Rights. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Journal Article

  • Keys, Barbara (2020). "The Diplomat's Two Minds: Deconstructing a Foreign Policy Myth". Diplomatic History 44(1): 1-21.
  • Keys, Barbara & Yorke, Claire (2019). "Personal and Political Emotions in the Mind of the Diplomat". Political Psychology 40(6): 1235-1249.
  • Keys, Barbara (2018). The Telephone and Its Uses in 1980s U.S. Activism. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 48(4): 485.
  • Keys, Barbara (2018). "Nixon/Kissinger and Brezhnev". Diplomatic History 42(4): 548-551.
  • Keys, Barbara (2018). "Harnessing Human Rights to the Olympic Games: Human Rights Watch and the 1993 'Stop Beijing' Campaign". Journal of Contemporary History 53(2): 415-438.
  • Keys, Barbara (2017). "Political Protection: The International Olympic Committee's UN Diplomacy in the 1980s". The International Journal of the History of Sport 34(11): 1161.
  • Keys, Barbara (2013). "Senses and Emotions in the History of Sport". Journal of Sport History 40(1): 21-38.
  • Keys, Barbara (2011). "Henry Kissinger: The Emotional Statesman". Diplomatic History 35(4): 587.
  • Keys, Barbara (2010). "Congress, Kissinger, and the Origins of Human Rights Diplomacy". Diplomatic History 34(5): 823.
  • Keys, Barbara (2009). "The Body as a Political Space: Comparing Physical Education under Nazism and Stalinism". German History 27(3): 395.
  • Keys, Barbara (2009). "An African-American Worker in Stalin's Soviet Union: Race and the Soviet Experiment in International Perspective". Historian 71(1): 31-54.
  • Keys, Barbara (2004). "Spreading Peace, Democracy, and Coca-Cola: Sport and American Cultural Expansion in the 1930s". Diplomatic History 28(2): 165.
  • Keys, Barbara (2003). "Soviet Sport and Transnational Mass Culture in the 1930s". The Journal of Contemporary History 38(3): 413-434.

Other (Print)

  • Keys, Barbara (2016). “The Kissinger Wars". American Historian. 10: 16-22.