Dr Emma Stone Mackinnon

Photo of Dr Emma Stone Mackinnon

BA (Harvard) MA (Chicago) PhD (Chicago)

Official Fellow
University Assistant Professor in History

My teaching and research is in contemporary political theory and the history of political thought, with broader research interests in histories of human rights and humanitarianism, anticolonialism, international political thought, and the relationship between history and politics. I came to Cambridge from the University of Chicago, where I completed a doctorate in Political Science. I arrived in 2017 as a Junior Research Fellow at Emmanuel; as of January 2020, I took up a university lectureship in the History Faculty and became an official fellow of the College.

My current book projects concern the legacies of the eighteenth-century French and American rights declarations in mid-twentieth century politics of race and empire, and are focused on the politics of what I describe as human rights promises. The first focuses on debates over the meaning of the American founding and the nature of American ‘hypocrisy’ in debates over race and rights in the mid-twentieth century US. The second looks at struggles from the 1940s through the 1960s over French imperialism in Algeria, and the relationship between decolonisation, self-determination, and human rights.

My work has been published in Political Theory and Humanity, and in the volumes Time, History, and Political Thought (CUP 2023), The Blackwell Companion to Arthur Danto (Wiley Blackwell 2022), and Contingency in the Course of International Law (OUP 2021), and is forthcoming in Volume 5: The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries of The Cambridge World History of Rights (CUP). My PhD dissertation, "Imperial Promises: The Contested Politics of Human Rights in the Twentieth Century," won the 2018 Richard Saller Dissertation Prize for best dissertation that year from the University of Chicago Social Sciences Division.

At Cambridge, I lecture in and co-convene "Political Philosophy and the History of Political Thought Since c. 1890" (History Part II Paper 5 / POL 11). I supervise for that paper as well as "The Modern State and its Alternatives" (POL 1) and "The History of Political Thought from c.1700 to c.1890" (History Part I Paper 20 and Part II Paper 4/ POL8 and POL10). I also teach and supervise PhD students in History and MPhil students in the MPhil programs in Political Thought and Intellectual History. At Emmanuel, I normally direct studies for students in the History and Politics and the History and Modern Languages joint triposes, and am a tutor in the College.

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and did my undergraduate studies at Harvard, where I concentrated in Social Studies. Before graduate school, I lived in New York City and in Washington, DC, working for four years at a political communications firm and for one year at a social policy research organization.


Mackinnon, Emma Stone. “Race, Rights, and the Politics of Petitioning,” in Volume 5: The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries (eds. Samuel Moyn and Meredith Terretta) of The Cambridge World History of Rights (series eds. Nehal Bhuta, Anthony Pagden, and Mira Siegelberg), Cambridge University Press, forthcoming

Mackinnon, Emma Stone. “The Right to Rebel: History and Universality in the Political Thought of the Algerian Revolution,” in Time, History, and Political Thought, ed. John Robertson, Cambridge University Press 2023

Mackinnon, Emma Stone. “Toward a Democratic Canon,” Review essay on African American Political Thought: A Collected History, eds. Melvin Rogers and Jack Turner (University of Chicago Press 2021), Comparative Political Theory, December 2022

Mackinnon, Emma Stone. "Amnesty International and Human Rights," in Blackwell Companion to Arthur C. Danto, ed. Lydia Goehr and Jonathan Gilmore, in series Blackwell Companions to Philosophy, Wiley Blackwell 2022

Mackinnon, Emma Stone. "Contingencies of Context: Legacies of the Algerian Revolution in the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions," in Contingency in International Law, ed. Kevin Jon Heller and Ingo Venzke, Oxford University Press, 2021

Mackinnon, Emma Stone. "Declaration as Disavowal: The Politics of Race and Empire in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Political Theory 47, no. 1. February 2019

Mackinnon, Emma Stone. "Promise-Making and the History of Human Rights: Reading Arendt with Danto," Humanity 19, no. 2 (Summer 2018)

Additional publications and information on my research and teaching is available on my personal website.