Kenney, Padraic (Jeremiah) 1963-

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KENNEY, Padraic (Jeremiah) 1963-


Born March 29, 1963; married, wife's name, Iza; children: Maia, Karolina. Education: Harvard College, A.B. (Slavic languages and literature; magna cum laude), 1985; University of Toronto, M.A. (history), 1986; University of Michigan, Ph.D. (history), 1992.


Office—Department of History, Box 234, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0234. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].


University of Colorado, Boulder, assistant professor, 1992-99, associate professor, 1999-2003, professor of history, 2003—, associate chair and director of undergraduate studies, department of history.


American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Polish Studies Association.


American Council of Learned Societies fellowship, 1991-92; research grant, International Research and Exchanges Board, 1993; awards from the University of Colorado, including the Twentieth-Century Humanist fellowship, 1996; research fellowship, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1997; Outstanding Academic Book, Choice, 1997, and AAASS/Orbis Book Prize, 1998, both for Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists,1945-1950; Heldt Prize, Association of Women in Slavic Studies, 1999, for "The Gender of Resistance in Communist Poland"; research fellowship, German Marshall Fund of the United States, 1999-2000; Fulbright lecturer, Poland, 2002-03; grant, Deutcher Akademiker Austausch Dienst, Goethe Institute (Berlin, Germany), 2003.


Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1997.

A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe, 1989, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2002.

(Editor, with Gerd-Rainer Horn) Transnational Moments of Change: Europe 1945, 1968, 1989, Rowman and Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2004.

Work represented in books by others, including The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe: A Reassessment, edited by Norman Naimark and Leonid Gibianskii, Westview (Boulder, CO), 1997, and Cultures and Nations of Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Zvi Gitelman, Lubomyr Hajda, John-Paul Himka, and Roman Solchanyk, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (Cambridge, MA), 2000. Author of "The Gender of Resistance in Communist Poland," American Historical Review, April, 1999. Contributor of articles, essays, and reviews to journals, including American Historical Review, Slavic Review, Contemporary European History, H-Net Reviews (on-line), East European Politics and Societies, Labor History, and Journal of Cold War Studies; contributor to periodicals, including the Boston Globe. Serves on the editorial boards of journals, including Slavic Review, and academic series, including Ohio University Press's "Polish-American Studies" series.


Editor, with Max Paul Friedman, Partisan Histories: The Past in Contemporary Global Politics, Palgrave, 2005.


Padraic Kenney is a professor of history whose teaching areas include modern Eastern and Central Europe, Poland, and comparative communism. His first book, Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950, benefits from archival material that has been made available since the fall of communism in East and Central Europe. Robert A. Berry wrote in Europe-Asia Studies that the book "is a pioneering effort to understand the dynamics of the early communist period at the level of the factory workers seeking to rebuild the state and to achieve dignity within it, as well as of the party cadres attempting to translate ideology into acceptance and power."

Kenney studies the struggle between the workers and the communists in two cities during this period. Lodz and its solidly united working-class population, which had been the center of the textile industry in prewar Poland, survived the war nearly unscathed. Wroclaw was an industrial town in the newly acquired west, and the traditional German population was replaced, for the most part, with Polish peasants, who lacked experience or the social structure of Lodz. Consequently, Lodz workers were more effective in their use of strikes in fulfilling their demands, but the Wroclaw workers, most of them single, also gained ground, in part because they had a lower degree of loyalty or pressure to remain either in the area or with any individual company.

During these years the state industry, the unions, and the workers felt the loss of their "moral community." In 1947 female textile workers in Lodz went on strike when they were told to work multiple looms. Eighteen factories were idled before the women were locked out. These strikers had stood up as women and mothers in the past, protesting working hours, shortages, and lack of child care. The workers of Wroclaw did not have the advantage of solidarity that protected the Lodz workers, and the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) was able to sign up most of them because the workers thought membership was necessary in order to obtain a job.

The state could not raise productivity through repression, however, and during the Stalinist revolution of 1948-1950 a system of rewards was instituted in which workers competed by producing more. In the end the system was not a permanent solution. Competition and tactics to "fix" documented production caused problems among employees, and the older workers resisted the changes. In 1949 wage reform was instituted that also eliminated the bonuses, but the state was unable to take away many of benefits that had been appropriated to the workers, and eventually the state was bankrupted by high labor costs.

Douglas Selvage wrote for H-Net Reviews online that Kenney "succeeds in demonstrating that Polish workers were not 'helpless victims' of the communist state. They did influence communist policies and their application; they did 'turn the system to their own advantage and lessen its crueler aspects.' More importantly, they maintained their antagonistic class identity, rooted in prewar traditions."

In A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe, 1989, Kenney argues that the Iron Curtain (the ideological barrier between the communist countries and the Western world) did not fall solely because of the efforts of the United States or Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika, but that the groundwork for the bloodless revolutions was laid by "broad social unrest on dozens of stages." Kenney was a graduate student researcher in Poland in the 1980s, and saw first-hand how the efforts of underground rock musicians, artists, guerrilla theater, and protestors fed dissent, along with the traditional grassroots peace movements in Poland and Hungary and the environmental movement in Czechoslovakia. This revolutionary carnival lasted from the spring of 1986, with demonstrations after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, until the Velvet Revolution in Prague. Kenney chose his title because the revolution was "joyous" and a mixture of "anarchism, nationalism, liberalism, conservatism, and postmaterialism in idiosyncratic ways." Ben Ehrenreich wrote in Mother Jones that "Kenney's careful account returns history to its rightful owners, the thousands who risked what little security they had to sneak a little joy into their lives."

American Historical Review's David Ost wrote that A Carnival of Revolution "should be a treasure chest for historians for years to come.… It is still too soon to explain what 1989 was all about, but this book contains important pieces of the puzzle, which is why it will be a crucial reference for a long time to come."



Kenney, Padraic, A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe, 1989, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2002.


American Historical Review, June, 1998, Robert E. Blobaum, review of Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950, p. 929; June, 2003, David Ost, review of A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe, 1989, pp. 941-942.

Choice, July-August, 1997, P. W. Knoll, review of Rebuilding Poland, p. 1857; November, 2002, J. Granville, review of A Carnival of Revolution, p. 532.

Europe-Asia Studies, January, 1998, Robert A. Berry, review of Rebuilding Poland, p. 161.

International History Review, December, 2002, John J. Kulczycki, review of A Carnival of Revolution, pp. 977-978.

Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Marcia L. Sprules, review of A Carnival of Revolution, p. 170.

Mother Jones, July-August, 2002, Ben Ehrenreich, review of A Carnival of Revolution, p. 73.

Slavic Review, fall, 1997, Richard D. Lewis, review of Rebuilding Poland, pp. 563-564.

Slavonic and East European Review, April, 2001, George Sanford, review of Rebuilding Poland, p. 367.

Social History, January, 1999, Andrew Port, review of Rebuilding Poland, p. 103.

Times Literary Supplement, January 31, 2003, John Gray, review of A Carnival of Revolution, p. 27.


H-Net Reviews Web site, (June 5, 2004), Douglas Selvage, review of Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950.*

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Kenney, Padraic (Jeremiah) 1963-

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