Gene Zubovich


Prof. Gene Zubovich.

Gene Zubovich


Gene Zubovich


Associate Professor
Department of History

Research Interests

20th Century United States; U.S. and the World; History of Human Rights; American Religious History; Intellectual History


  • PhD University of California, Berkeley, 2015

Current Research

My first book project is called Before the Religious Right: Liberal Protestants, Human Rights, and the Polarization of the United States. It is a history of how international debates about human rights and world order transformed American domestic politics from the 1920s to the 1960s. Before the Religious Right focuses on the activities of American liberal Protestants, whose networks, ideas, and activism served as the crucial link between international developments and American politics. This influential religious community helped create the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it mobilized politically in support of the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, the Great Society, and anti-Vietnam War protests. I argue that it was precisely this group’s international engagement that motivated their influential domestic political mobilization and transformed American politics.

Whereas my first book looks at the domestic implications of religious internationalism, my second book project investigates how Americans exported their polarizing politics across the world from the 1960s to the present. Tentatively titled A Global History of the American Culture Wars, this new project follows American culture warriors as they went abroad, taking with them their battles about race, secularism, education, birth control, free speech and abortion. Contrary to a literature that depicts the culture wars as evidence of American religious and cultural parochialism, I show how the polarizing politics we are so familiar with today were deeply intertwined with major international transformations, like decolonization, the advent of human rights, and the Cold War.

Selected Publications

Before the Religious Right: Liberal Protestants, Human Rights, and the Polarization of the United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, March 2022), ix + 391 pp.

“The U.S. Culture Wars Abroad: The Liberal-Evangelical Rivalry and Decolonization in Southern Africa, 1968-1994,” Journal of American History, 110, no. 2 (September 2023): 308-322.

“From Order to Revolution: American Ecumenical Protestants and the Colonial World, 1900-1970,” in Elizabeth Foster and Udi Greenberg, eds., Decolonization and the Remaking of Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), 31-50.

“Christianity and Human Rights in Modern American History,” invited contribution to “Forum on Rights,” Modern American History, First View, May 16, 2023.

“Christian Globalism, Christian Nationalism, and the Ecumenical-Evangelical Rivalry,” in John Corrigan, Melani McAlister, and Axel Schafer, eds., Global Faith and Worldly Power: Evangelical Encounters with American Empire (University of North Carolina Press, 2022), 145-171.

“U.S. Protestants, Globalization, and the International Origins of the Sixties,” Diplomatic History, 45, no. 1 (January 2021): 28-49.

“William Ernest Hocking and the Liberal Protestant Origins of Human Rights” in Sarah Shortall and Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, eds., Christianity and Human Rights Reconsidered (Cambridge University Press, 2020), 139-157.

“For Human Rights Abroad, against Jim Crow at Home: The Political Mobilization of American Ecumenical Protestants in the Era of World War II,” Journal of American History, 105, no. 2 (September 2018): 267-290.

“American Protestants and the Era of Antiracist Human Rights,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 79, no. 3 (July 2018): 427-443.

“The Cold War Era, 1945-60,” in Darren Dochuk and Jerald Podair, eds., Routledge History of the Twentieth-Century United States (Routledge, 2018), 48-59.

“The Protestant Search for ‘the Universal Christian Community’ between Decolonization and Communism,” Religions, 8, No. 2 (2017).

Awards and Fellowships

Kluge Fellow, John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress, 2021-22.

NEH Summer Stipend, 2021.

American Society for Church History Research Fellowship, 2019.

Postdoctoral Research Associate, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics Washington University in St. Louis, 2016-2018.

Chancellor’s Public Scholar, University of California, Berkeley, 2016.