Aliza Luft’s research focuses on the decision-making processes underlying individuals’ behaviors in high-risk contexts, particularly in genocides as they decide whether to support or resist violent state regimes. Luft’s dissertation, Defecting from the Episcopate, examines the process by which French bishops during the Holocaust in France deviated from their support for the Vichy to help save Jews, despite the high personal and institutional costs associated with defection. Ms. Luft’s dissertation draws on 12 months of original data collection in 8 diocesan archives throughout France, as well as theoretical insights gleaned from her previous research in Rwanda and on the Armenian genocide.
Aliza Luft has received funding and support from the Chateaubriand Fellowship, the Social Science History Association, and the Wisconsin Center for Jewish Studies, among others. She has also spoken at a variety of conferences and been invited to give guest lectures at various universities, including, most recently, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School in honor of Yom HaShoah. The first chapter of her dissertation, which explains why French bishops originally elected to support the Vichy’s anti-Semitic policies, was awarded “Best Graduate Paper” in April 2014 from the Association for the Study of Nationalities. From 2013-2014, Luft was a Visiting Research Scholar at CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Luft will use the Kagan Fellowship to complete her dissertation. You can learn more about her work here.