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Hannah Wilson 

PhD: AHRC Midlands 3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, Department of History, Specialisation in Holocaust Studies 

Thesis Title: The Materialisation of Sobibor Death Camp: Artefacts, Narratives and Representation 


Thesis Description:

As we approach a future without first hand witnesses of the event, Holocaust archaeology has arguably become one of the most crucial aspects within contemporary memory studies. In my PhD research, I examine the impact that the archaeological excavations at the site of Sobibor (a former Nazi Death camp in Poland) has had in public discourses of the Shoah. My working hypothesis is that the globalisation of Holocaust memory and the discovery of Jewish artefacts at Sobibor are leading to a greater focus on Jewish suffering at the memorial site than was the case under Communism. Not only do these artefacts provide a deeper historical understanding of the site, but they also help to create narratives for both the perpetrators and victims. Furthermore, the uncovering of certain objects has led to wider international interest in the site of Sobibor, creating a series of debates surrounding ownership of memory, and how each participating country in the future commemoration of Sobibor remembers its victims (Israel, Slovakia, Poland and Holland).  My research will discuss the representation of the Holocaust within the context of material culture, looking specifically at the importance of artefacts in memory and museum studies. How do institutions use artefacts to educate, define and recreate aspects of the Holocaust, and how will this be handled at Sobibor? What are the ethical implications of dealing with objects belonging to the deceased and human remains? How have visual adaptations and recognisable symbols been typically used to represent the narrative and structure of camps?


Supervisors and Institution(s): William Niven, Nottingham Trent University, Nick Hayes, NTU. 

Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

  • "Sketching the Horrors of Auschwitz: Ella Liebermann-Shiber", Reflections: Auschwitz Study Group Holocaust Magazine, Issue 1 2016, pg. 42-47, 

  • "Sobibor Revealed", Relflections: Auschwitz Study Group Holocaust Magazine, Issue 1 2016, pg. 18-19,

Blog Posts:


Previous Education and Awards:

  • The Weiss-Livnat International MA Program, School of History, University of Haifa, Israel. Thesis: "Life, Creativity, Action and Construction: The Exile in Cyprus Album, 1947-48"
  • Fine Art & Art History, BA, University of Leeds
  • Erasmus International Program, Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow, Poland
  • Awarded European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellowship, 2016/17, Three Week Placement at the Emanuel Ringlelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw. February 2017
  • Winner of Yad Vashem World Holocaust Rememberence Centre Research Scholarship for Masters thesis, 2016

Previous and Upcoming Public Engagement Activities:

  • Member of the Organising Team for the 23rd Workshop on the History and Memory of National Socialist Camps and Extermination Sites, Thessaloniki, Greece, Date TBC
  • Student Research Placement, M3C Funded, Imperial War Museum, London: Curatorial Team and Research for New Holocaust Exhibition, February 2018-August 2018 
  • Paper presentation, Fourth International Graduate Students' Conference on Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, Boston, 12-15th April 2018
  • Presentation of Research, Second Annual Conference of the Memory Studies Association 2017, University of Copenhagen, 14-16th December 2017
  • Teaching Session, Nottingham Trent University History Masters Program, Artefacts in the Archive, 6th December 2017
  • Research Student at Sobibor Death Camp Archaeological Excavations, November 2017
  • 22nd Workshop on the History and Memory of National Socialist Camps and Extermination Sites: Practices of Memory and Knowledge Production, Presentation of Research and Participation, Budapest, October 17 – October 22, 2017
  • 12th European Summer School Ravensbrück 2017: Objects on Display: National Socialist Artefacts in Exhibitions, Presentation of Research, Germany, August 27th – Friday, September 1st 2017
  • Debates in Contemporary Memory Studies, Workshop, Conference and Seminar Series, Post-graduate students in Holocaust Studies at Nottingham Trent, M3C Funded Project (March 2017-July 2017) 
  • Research Student at Treblinka Death Camp, Archaeological Excavations with Caroline Sturdy-Colls (Staffordshire University), 6-13th May 2017 (HERA Project Funded)
  • Logic of The Archive Training, M3C Funded, University of Birmingham
  • Presentation of Conference Paper at SI:ius: Social Fringe, Interesting Untold Stories Conference: "War, Revolution and Memory: Post-War Monuments in Post-Communist Europe", 17th-18th February 2017, Zagreb, Croatia 
  • Research trip to Amsterdam, M3C Funded
  • Research Trip to Israel, Engaging/working in the archives at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, Interview with archaeologist Yoram Haimi from Sobibor Archaeological Excavations, 6th-17th November 2016.
  • Research Student at Sobibor Death Camp, Archaeological Excavations with Yoram Haimi & Wojtiech Mazurek, Sobibor, Poland, October 2016
  • Presentation of Conference Paper at "The Holocaust and History: The Work and Legacy of David Cesarani", The Holocaust Research Centre, Royal Holloway, University of London, 3-4th April 2017
  • Awarded European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellowship, 2016/17, Three Week Placement at the Emanuel Ringlelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw. Feburary 2017.
  • Presentation of Conference Paper: "The Re-Conceptualisation of Sobibor Memorial Site" at German Historical Institute, Warsaw, Conceptualisations of the Holocaust in Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine since the 1990's: Historical Research and Public Debate, 5th-8th December 2016
  • Contributor and Council Member of the Auschwitz Study Group, Visual Arts and the Holocaust Department, 2015- Present
  • Interview with Holocaust Survivor Sandor Vandor, Recorded Testimony for Newcastle City Council Holocaust Memorial Day Group, Newcastle City Libraries, Tyneside Cinema, August 2016
  • Research Student at Sobibor Death Camp, Archeological Excavations with Yoram Haimi & Wojtiech Mazurek, September 2014



Other Research Interests:

  • Holocaust Memory, Memory Studies, Museum Studies, Art History, Cultural Studies, Holocaust Archaeology, Heritage and Preservation 



University email address:

Twitter: @HannahWilsonPhD


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