Michelle Kelso

Michelle Kelso

Michelle Kelso

Director, Human Services & Social Justice, Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Affairs

Core Faculty


Office Phone: (202) 994-6895
801 22nd St NW Washington DC 20052

Professor Kelso’s research focuses primarily on the fate of the Roma during the Holocaust in Romania. Social justice and the exploration of (in)equalities are the foundations of her research. She is particularly interested in the intersection of memory, marginalization and contemporary education policy. Recently, Dr. Kelso has also begun exploring gender in the workplace as well as EU migration. With a strong belief in public sociology, Dr. Kelso integrates her scholarship with public discussions and policy programming. In 2017, she began a research project focusing on memory and commemoration of the Holocaust in post-Soviet spaces with a concentration on Ukraine.

Dr. Kelso has extensive international experience both as a researcher and consultant. She consulted for the Council of Europe, USAID, non-profits, Holocaust compensation programs, as well as the Romanian government. She has been the recipient of several prestigious national awards, including a Fulbright Core Fellowship to Romania in 2016-17, and two prior Fulbrights in 2004 and 1994. Dr. Kelso was a Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009, where she researched the Romani experience in Romanian-run camps in occupied Soviet Union during WWII. She speaks Romanian and French, and has studied Romani, Spanish and is beginning Russian.

Prior to coming to GW, Dr. Kelso worked in civil society and media. From 2005-2010, she directed a Romanian non-profit that focused on tolerance and democracy building. In 2005, she made a documentary film: Hidden Sorrows: The Persecution of Romanian Gypsies During WWII that has screened in seven countries, numerous film festivals, and aired on three national television channels. Dr. Kelso has also been a freelance photographer for USA Today and the Associated Press, and is a contributor to the Huffington Post.

Historical & Comparative Sociology, Ethnography, Sociology of Education, Race & Ethnicity, Health & Aging, Visual Sociology

Holocaust and Genocide, Education in Eastern Europe, Migration and the European Union, Gender and Employment, Collective Memory

HSSJ Courses:

HSSJ 1100 Introduction to Human Services

HSSJ 1177  Organizing for Social Justice in Human Services
HSSJ 2160/IAFF 2183  The Role of NGOs in International Humanitarian Assistance
HSSJ 3100W  Program Planning and Evaluation (WID)
HSSJ 3110W  Non-profit and Organizational Management (WID)

HSSJ 4195 Capstone

SOC Courses:

SOC 2181  Special Topics: Sociology of the Holocaust & Genocide*
SOC 6232  Qualitative Methodology: Doing Field Research

*also taught as WID and DE online courses

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Hanson, S. L., Kelso, M., & Tuch, S. A. (2024). A Comparative Analysis of Gender and Public Opinion on Democracy in Poland, Romania, and the United States, 1995-2020. International Journal of Social Science Studies12(1), 28-44.

Eglitis, D. S., & Kelso, M. (2023). Ghost Heroes. In Encyclopedia of Heroism Studies (pp. 1-5). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Eglitis, D. & Kelso, M. (2018). Ghost Heroes: Forgetting and Remembering in National Narratives of the Past. Acta Sociologica.

Kelso, M. & Tuch, S. (2017). Exploring the Nexus Between Human Services and Sociology Through Engaged Scholarship. Zeszyty Pracy Socjalnej 2015, 20( 4), 139–148.

Betts, D., Polash, J., Luke, J, & Kelso, M. (2015). An art therapy study of visitor reactions to the United States Holocaust memorial museum experience. Museum Management and Curatorship, 30(1), 21- 43.

Kelso, M. & Eglitis, D. (2014). Holocaust commemoration in Romania: Roma and the contested politics of memory and memorialization. Journal of Genocide Research, 16(4), 487-511.

Kelso, M.  (2013). ‘And Roma were victims, too.’ The Romani genocide and Holocaust education in Romania. Intercultural Education, 24(1-2), 61-78.

Kelso, M. (2008). Holocaust-era compensation and the case of the Roma. Studia Hebriaca 8, 298-334.

Kelso, M. 2007. Hidden history: Perceptions of the Romani Holocaust in Romania viewed through contemporary race relations. Anthropology of East Europe Review, 44-61.


Ioanid, R; Kelso, M. & Cioaba, L. (Eds). (2009). Tragedia romilor in Transnistria,1942-1945 [The Tragedy of Roma in Transnistria 1942-1945.] Bucharest: Polirom.

Kelso, M. & Ghirda, V. (Eds.) (2009). Through our lens: Romani lives and culture. Bucharest: The Association for Dialog and Civic Education.

Kelso, M. & Popa, A. (2006). Ghidul professorului. Dureri ascunse: Persecutarea romilor din Romania 1942-44. (A Teacher’s guide. Hidden sorrows: The persecution of Romanian Roma 1942-44). Bucharest: The Association for Dialogue and Civic Education.

Book Chapters

Kelso, M.(2021). Romania. In Z. Csergo, D.S. Eglitis, & P. Pickering (Eds), pp.463-498. Central and East European Politics. Changes and Challenges, Fifth Edition. Rowman & Littlefield. 

Eglitis, D. S., & Kelso, M. (2021). Demography and Migration. In Z. Csergo, D.S. Eglitis, & P. Pickering (Eds), pp. 159-184. Central and East European Politics. Changes and Challenges, Fifth Edition. Rowman & Littlefield. 

Kelso, M. (2018). No Shelter to Cry In. Romani Girls and the Holocaust in Transnistria. In E. Bemporad & J. Warren (Eds), pp.137-158. Women and Genocide. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Kelso, M. (2017). Reflections on Holocaust education of the Roma genocide. In Kovalchuk, S., Silova, I., Sobe, N., & Korzh, A. (eds.). Reimagining utopias: Theory and method for educational research in post-socialist contexts. Sense Publishers.

Kelso, M. (2016). Roma Women and the Holocaust: Testimonies of sexual violence in Romanian-controlled Transnistria.  In D. Gosbee & J. DiGeorgio-Lutz (Eds.) Women and Genocide: An anthology, pp.37-72. Canadian Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press.

Kelso, M.  (forthcoming 2017). ‘And Roma were victims, too.’ The Romani genocide and Holocaust Education in Romania. Edited volume by D. Stevick and D. Michaels. Routledge. [Special edition of Intercultural Education selected for a book by Routledge].

Kelso, M. & D. Eglitis (forthcoming 2017). “Holocaust commemoration in Romania: Roma and the contested politics of memory and memorialization.” In D. Moses and S. Gigliotti, (eds.). The Memorialization of Genocide. Routledge. [Special edition of The Journal of Genocide Research selected for a book by Routledge].

Kelso, M. (1999). The Deportation of Gypsies from Romania to Transnistria 1942-44.  In D. Kenrick (ed.). The Gypsies during the second world war: In the shadow of the swastika (95-130). Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.

Book Reviews

Kelso, M. (2014). Living Beyond the Pale. Environmental Justice and the Roma Minority by Richard Filcak. (Central European University Press, 2012). Slavic Review 73:1, pp. 182-183.

Kelso, M. (2004). The Roma in Romanian History, by Viorel Achim (Central European University Press, 2004) Historical Yearbook, Vol. I, Bucharest: Romanian Academy Nicolae Iorga: Bucharest.

Policy Reports

Kelso, M., Koburger, A. & Sexton, M. (2013). Diversity Dividends. Advancing Women in Business Leadership. The George Washington University. Client: U.S. State Department. U.S. Embassy Switzerland.

Kelso, M., Cahn, N. & Miller, B.  (2012). Gender Equality in Employment: Policies and Practices in Switzerland and the U.S. The George Washington University. Client: U.S. State Department. U.S. Embassy Switzerland.


Kelso, M. Director. Hidden Sorrows: The Persecution of Romanian Gypsies During WWII (2005). 56 min. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQNhSQemCzo


Moldovan National Television. Broadcast date: 8 April 2010.
Hungarian National Television. Broadcast date: 2 August 2007.
Romanian National Television – Transylvania. Broadcast date: 12 July 2007.


Romanian Cultural Center Roma Cultural Festival. London, UK. June-July 2014.
One World Film Festival. Bucharest, Romania. October 2013.
Douarnenez Film Festival. Douarnenez, France. August 2013.
RomaVideoDrom Film Festival. Salzburg, Austria. June 2009.
UCLA International Human Rights Film Festival. Los Angeles, CA. February 2009.
New York Gypsy Film Festival. New York, NY. August 2008.
Astra Ethnographic Film Festival. Sibiu, Romania. June 2007.
International Romani Arts Festival. Timisoara, Romania. August 2007.
Astra Ethnographic Film Festival. Sibiu, Romania. June 2006.

PhD in Sociology, University of Michigan. 2010
Master of Public Affairs, University of Texas. 2001
Master of Arts in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. University of Texas. 2001