Emma Stone Mackinnon is a PhD candidate in the department with a focus in political theory and comparative politics. Her dissertation, "Imperial Promises: The Contested Politics of Human Rights Promises in the 20th Century," concerns the relationship of human rights ideals to their history, and in particular the place of universal human rights commitments in the midcentury politics of race and empire. Drawing on a combination of theoretical texts and original archival research, she argues for viewing the universal human rights promises of foundational US, French, and international texts as of a piece with their own non-fulfillment, and for viewing  appeals to those promises not as claims for augmentation or inclusion, but as efforts at critique and re-founding. Her work is supervised by Jennifer Pitts (chair), Mark Bradley, Robert Gooding-Williams, Patchen Markell, and Lisa Wedeen.

Emma holds an AB in Social Studies from Harvard and an AM from the University of Chicago. She has taught as a lecturer in the undergraduate core curriculum and in the department, and co-coordinates the Human Rights Workshop. Her work is forthcoming in Humanity and in the Blackwell Companion to Arthur C. Danto.