Alma Huselja is a PhD candidate in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation is tentatively titled “Building a Fascist State: ‘Aryanization’ in the Independent State of Croatia, 1941—1945.”
Huselja’s dissertation examines the campaigns of property expropriation and redistribution along racial lines as organized by the Ustaša leadership of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Namely, she is interested in both the intended aims of the Ustaša’s expropriation campaigns as well as their implementation and variations, at regional and local levels. While highlighting expropriation as an Ustaša tactic to elucidate their ideology and cultivate loyalty in their attempt to create a new fascist society, Huselja’s work seeks to understand how individuals interacted with such laws and policies, understood, and took part in the persecution of “non-Aryans,” and thus impacted these processes themselves. Examining individuals’ interactions with the process of expropriation and property itself can elucidate where their behaviors came to support, accommodate, or subvert Ustaša ideas about race and nation and their persecution of Jews, Serbs, and Roma.
Huselja’s project explores such themes by studying expropriation in multiple cities across Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her research utilizes a wide variety of sources to study these themes and reconstruct everyday life under fascism and wartime as well as the experiences of victims. They include, among others, documentation from national, regional, and local NDH offices responsible for expropriation, oral histories, survivor testimony, memoirs, newspapers, and postwar restitution and war crimes trials.
Huselja received her A.B. in the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and her M.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has received multiple grants and fellowships in support of her research, including from the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and the Central European History Society. In 2022, she was a Summer Graduate Student Research Fellow at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. At UNC, her advisors are Drs. Karen Auerbach and Chad Bryant.