PhD Students

at the LBI/ Queen Mary, University of London

Carmel Heeley

Queen Mary Research Studentship Holder

Carmel Heeley received her BA in Philosophy and Holocaust Studies at the University of Manchester before completing an MA in European Jewish History at the Leo Baeck Institute, Queen Mary. Her MA thesis, entitled Volksgemeinschaft, Gender and the Nazi Concentration Camps, explored the relationship between moral sentiments, moral values and Nazism’s racialized conceptions of gender that underpinned the concentration camp system between 1933-1939.

Her research interests include: Third Reich history, German-Jewish history, anti-Semitism and Nazism’s persecutory policies, the history of emotions, as well as the moral framework of Nazi Germany.

Working Title: ‘German Jews, German Gentiles and the Alps: How Conceptions of Heimat, Bavarian Traditions and Moral Values defined ‘German’ Belongings and German-Jewish experience, 1920-1940.’

At its heart, my project engages with recent historiographical efforts to work with the category of emotion by examining the links between moral sentiments, moral values and social imaginaries that underpinned conceptions of ‘belonging’ in Germany between 1920-1940. In particular, I explore how sentiments, values and imaginaries informed the self-understanding of German Jews and gentiles, and more broadly were crucially central to legitimising the inclusion and exclusion of Jewish minorities in German society at large.

Specifically, my PhD focuses on how German Jews were important in forming and propagating the ways in which ‘belonging’ was imagined in Germany, and how their ideas were later overturned by the Nazis, between 1920 and 1940. I am particularly concerned with the German idea of ‘Heimat’ – a primary concept of belonging tied to regionalism – as central to how German society imagined itself and ultimately, to perceptions of inclusion and exclusion. Building on current historiography, I demonstrate the key integratory function of these regional interpretations of ‘authenticity’, and the moral sentiments (emotions) and values that fuelled them. I do this by analysing the multiple levels on which Jews negotiated inclusive regional interpretations of Heimat that were employed locally and nationally – as inventors of ideas, entrepreneurs and holidaymakers – taking Bavaria as a case study. Bavaria, considered an embodiment of quintessential ‘German’ (alpine) landscapes and traditions that promoted distinctive practices, is poignant here as a site where German Jews could visualise and articulate various identities linked to ‘German’ belonging. That these interpretations were consequential to German perceptions of ‘authentic belonging’ is evident in how they were subsequently overturned by the Nazis to legitimise anti-Semitic measures, excluding Jews from Heimat-associated sites, practices and organisations – no more visible than in the German Alps.




Previous PhD Students:


Tabea Maja Judith Richardson (Completed: 2021)

Queen Mary Principal’s Studentship holder

Tabea M. J. Richardson

Tabea Richardson studied Drama and Theatre studies at the Universities of Winchester and Bochum (Germany) before completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and an MA in International Studies at the University of Sheffield.

Her keen interest in the playing out of historical interrelations of national and cultural identities have led to her academic focus on British and German national identity construction with regards to their historic pasts as well as their differing relations with the State of Israel in the 20th century.

She is interested in researching how differing communities of memory and experience negotiate a shared co-existence in the present. This has led her to focus her current PhD project on the history of what has been called the Christian-Jewish Dialogue in Germany after the Holocaust.

In her thesis entitled

Divisive voices-deliberate vocations: 3 female protagonists and their take on the Christian-Jewish dialogue after the Holocaust; Gertrud Luckner, the activist, Eleonore Sterling, the historian and Jeanette Wolff, the politician

she applies a gendered perspective in assessing the work of three female figures in the institutionalised attempts at creating a dialogue between Christians and Jews in Germany in the 1950s and 60s. In focusing on how the three women acted out their roles in this dialogue in the context of their biographical complexities, religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and professional capacities she hopes to tell the history of the phenomenon away from a male and mostly theological paradigm. Additionally, by concentrating on female actors, of which one was a non-Jewish German, she aims to challenge the axis of separating the history of German Jews from those of the history of Germans. In this way, her thesis takes a critical stance towards the way the Christian-Jewish Dialogue has been used to historicize the relationships between German Gentiles and German Jews after the Second World War on the one hand, but also enhances our insight into the history of German-Jewish women in the decades succeeding the immediate post World War II period.


Florence Largillière (Completed: 2019)

John A.S. Grenville Studentship in Modern Jewish History and Culture holder


Florence Largillière studied for her BA at Sciences Po Paris, and graduated in 2011. She went on to complete a first Research Master in History at the same institution, under the supervision of Prof. Marc Lazar. She then completed an MPhil in Modern European History at the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation, supervised by Dr. John Pollard, focused on the discourses of Italian Fascist Jews who had asked to be exempted from the Racial Laws in 1938.

Her research interests include modern European Jewish history, nationalism, the construction of identities, and, more generally, the social and cultural history of interwar Europe.

Nationalist Jews in France, Germany, and Italy Faced with Anti-Semitism: 1914-1940

I will be studying the minority of the French, German, and Italian Jewish communities who overtly supported right-wing nationalist movements and ideas during the interwar period. I will analyse the private and public discourses of these nationalist Jews to see how they tried to adapt and negotiate their – conflicting – national and Jewish identities.

My PhD will focus on individuals, rather than political groups, parties, or associations. The main facets I aim to cover are the following: the extent to which nationalist Jews were integrated into their respective national communities; their family’s stories; how they explained their involvement in nationalist, often violent, movements; and how they described themselves regarding their religion, their culture, and their nationalism.


Rodney Reznek (Completed: 2017)

Rodney Reznek

Rodney Reznek MA, FRANZCR(hon),FFR RCSI(hon), FRCP,FRCR is currently Emeritus Professor of Diagnostic Imaging in the Cancer Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. He has authored/co-authored 195 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, 120 invited reviews and book chapters, over 200 scientific abstracts and edited 17 textbooks. He has been Editor-in-chief of 2 major scientific journals, section editor of another and on the editorial board of 2 other journals. He has held 8 visiting professorships and given several eponymous lectures around the world.

A Vocabulary of Difference: How Jews Were Denied Entry to South Africa in the 1930’s

Standard texts on the history of South Africa’s Jewish community portray it as the goldene medina (the golden utopia), yet on two separate occasions immigration of Jews was either severely curtailed or stopped: in 1930, an Immigration Quotas Act was passed limiting admission of Eastern European Jews to only a small quota; in 1937, an Aliens Act was passed denying Jews, fleeing events in Central Europe, access into the country. Initial research indicates that the discourse in the 1920s relating to immigration was couched in a scientific eugenicist argument, whereas in the 1930s, “frontier guards” were motivated by a functional, cultural nationalism with arguments about Jewish ‘assimilability’. My research explores the ideas and discourse that lead up to these two Acts of Jewish exclusion and, in particular, the interplay between anti-Semitism, White South Africa’s search for a national identity and its need to maintain supremacy over the Black population.


Joseph Cronin (Completed: 2016)

Leo Baeck Institute and Queen Mary Studentship in Modern Jewish History holder

Joseph Cronin

Joseph Cronin studied at Durham University before going on to undertake PhD research at the Leo Baeck Institute and Queen Mary University of London in 2012.

His thesis, completed in 2016, is entitled: “Die Russen sind angekommen!”: Perceptions of Jews from the former Soviet Union in Germany’s Jewish Communities, 1990–2005.

Joseph’s research interests include postwar German-Jewish history, Holocaust memory and migration studies. He is currently Lecturer in Modern German History at Queen Mary University of London.


Dana Smith (Completed: 2015)

John A.S. Grenville Studentship in Modern Jewish History and Culture holder

Dana Smith

Dana Smith received her BA from Centre College (Kentucky), where she majored in history. She then completed her MA at the University of Vermont under the supervision of Dr. Alan Steinweis, focusing on modern European history and Holocaust Studies. Her research interests include German Jewish history, National Socialism, Holocaust memory in post-war Germany, and the history of anti-Semitism. She was awarded the John A.S. Grenville Studentship in Modern Jewish History and Culture in 2012. She has passed her viva in 2015.

The “Jüdischer Kulturbund”: Jewish Cultural Life and Identity under Nazism

My research focuses on the “Jüdischer Kulturbund” (Jewish Cultural League), which existed throughout National Socialist Germany from 1933 until 1938, and continued to operate in Berlin until 1941. I am especially interested in the regional variations of artistic creation (particularly the case of the Bavarian Kulturbund), and the ways in which cultural participation aided in the construction of a new Jewish identity under Nazi persecution.



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