Anna Fett

Anna Fett


Interest/Specialization: Twentieth-Century U.S.; Cultural & Religious History; Foreign Affairs & Imperialism; Peace Studies 

Anna Fett is a historian of the U.S. in the world, with a focus on the intersection of culture, religion, and imperialism within the study of U.S. foreign policy and foreign relations in the 20th century. Her research also contributes to Peace Studies by contextualizing the dominant motives, values, and history of this multi-disciplinary field, especially as it has developed within the United States. Her dissertation, “Peace Education for the World: People-to-People Programs, American Youth, & U.S. Power, 1946-1991,” examines the history of one common peacebuilding method favored by the U.S. government and many American non-governmental organizations: people-to-people programs. Since the end of the Cold War, Western countries increasingly have funded people-to-people programs to help adversarial groups undergoing violent conflict build trust and understanding through intergroup dialogues and other cooperative projects. However, the past complexities, controversies, and impacts of these programs have largely eluded both scholarly and policy examination. Anna’s dissertation traces a nexus of the most prominent U.S. scholars, private advocates and organizations, and government officials who established and supported different kinds of people-to-people programs since the mid-twentieth century. Rather than craft an institutional history of any one program, she provides an intellectual history of key concepts and theories across these programs. Her research demonstrates how the U.S. environment in which the core theoretical underpinnings of the people-to-people practice developed has significantly impacted the power dynamics of contemporary program structures and funding trends. Her research also explores how certain essentializing discourses about youth, as threatening “troublemakers” and potential “peacebuilders,” have led to the expansion of particular kinds of programming for youth as well as how these programs have reinforced these problematic characterizations, with serious repercussions for young people both at home and abroad.

Anna was a Notre Dame Presidential Fellow from 2015-2019 and a 2019-2020 Pepe Fellow. In 2017, she was awarded the University of Notre Dame “Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award” in her department. She also completed the University of Notre Dame “Community Engagement Faculty Institute” certification where she deepened her knowledge, skills, and passion for community-based research and teaching. 


Fett, Anna. “U.S. People-to-People Programs: Cold War Cultural Diplomacy to Conflict Resolution.” Diplomatic History (Accepted for publication July 2, 2020, forthcoming 2020).

Fett, Anna. “Why All the ‘Emphasis on Youth’? Youth Bulge Talk, 1961 & 2020.” In Building Sustainable Peace with and for Young People: Examining Evidence, Trends, and Challenges, ed. Helen Berents, Catherine Bolten, and Siobhán McEvoy-Levy. (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2021).

Fett, Anna. Covenant Brothers: Evangelicals, Jews, and U.S.-Israeli Relations. By Daniel G. Hummel, Journal of Church and State, (July 2020).