Elissa Mailänder

Associate professor
World War II, Nazi Germany, Gender and Sexuality, History of violence


I am Associate Professor of Contemporary History at Sciences Po and also serve as Deputy Director of the Centre interdisciplinaire d'études et de recherches sur l'Allemagne (CIERA). My research and teaching interests lie in the history of violence, gender and sexuality; material culture; and the history of the everyday. In particular, I explore material, social and cultural dimensions of violent acts.

My first book, Female SS Guards and Workaday Violence: The Majdanek Concentration Camp, 1942–1944 (Lansing: Michigan State Press, 2015, German edition 2009), analyses the structures, mechanisms, and dynamics of violence in Nazi concentration and extermination camps. I have also published several peer-reviewed articles on this topic. My most recent project examines friendship, intimacy and heterosexual relationships in Nazi Germany and the monograph Love, Marriage, Sex: An Intimate History of Nazi Germany, 1930-1950 will be published in 2021.

Although my work focuses primarily on 20th century Germany and Austria, I have found myself further intrigued by research questions best explored transnationally. This is an especially effective method when studying the different facets of violence. My new project, tentatively titled “Performative Transgressions in Armed Conflict: Military Trophy Selfies, from the Philippine-American War to the War in Iraq (1899-2011), deals with snapshots of soldiers in the twentieth-century and explores the historical significance of these seemingly superficial tokens of war.

Originally trained as a scholar of comparative literature at the University of Vienna and the University Paris-Sorbonne (1993-1999; BA and MA), I earned my doctoral degree in Contemporary History and Historical Anthropology from the EHESS Paris and the University of Erfurt in 2007. In 2018, I completed my habilitation.

Last Publications


  • DEA - Histoire et civilisation : « La construction de la cruauté : les surveillantes SS dans les camps de concentration (1933-1945) », École des hautes études en sciences sociales (2001)
  • DOCTORAT - , École des hautes études en sciences sociales (2007)
  • MASTER - Etudes germaniques : « Karl Philipp Moritz : Reisen eines Deutschen in Italien (1786-1788) », Université Paris-Sorbonne - Paris 4 (1999)
  • MASTER - Littérature comparée et Langue et Littérature romanes, Universität Wien (1997)
  • MASTER - Maîtrise de philologie allemande et française (Mag. phil.) : « La représentation de la "femme fatale" dans la littérature décadente : un discours misogyne et antisémite », Universität Wien (1999)


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Focus Area and Themes

Humanities | Lives, Materialities, Representations

Last Publications

Supervision of PhD Thesis

L'encadrement de l'homosexualité en France au XXe siècle

Justina SMALKYTE (co-direction avec Claire Andrieu, Sciences Po, CHSP)
Espace, objets, corps : Les matérialités des résistances anti-nazies en Lituanie sous occupation allemande (1941-1944)

Suzy TOSON (co-direction avec Marie-Anne Matard Bonucci, Paris VIII)
Les Italiennes dans les organisations de masse fascistes : pratiques sociales féminines sous le régime fasciste (1925-1943)

Saskia PÄLZ-RIEGER (co-direction avec Carola Dietze, Université de Iena)
Carmen Mory und Stella Goldschlag. Deutungsangebote und Narrative über Grenzgängerinnen im Nationalsozialismus, 1945-2020.

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