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 relations, anti-Semitism and Nazism’s persecutory policies, the history of emotions, as well as the moral framework of Nazi Germany.

Working Title: ‘The Germans, the Jews and the Alps: How Moral Values, Bavarian Traditions and Sport were central to German self-understanding and German-Jewish claims to ‘belonging’ between 1920-1950’.

In line with recent historiographical efforts to work with the category of emotion, my project examines how moral sentiments and moral values formed the self-understanding of Bavarian Jews between 1920-1950. Further, how sentiments and values informed local Gentile society and as a result, were central to legitimising the inclusion and exclusion of Jewish minorities in German society at large.

My PhD is particularly concerned with the German idea of ‘Heimat’ – a primary concept of belonging – as central to how German society imagined itself. In doing so, I concentrate on Bavaria, regarded to be a site of Heimat in virtue of its embodiment of ‘German’ (alpine) landscape and folk traditions. Bavarian customs offered a way in which to demonstrate authentic ‘Germanness’, something that held different meanings regionally and nationally, and bore shifting societal functions with underlying moral and sentimental implications. By offering practices that explicitly displayed regional self-consciousness and thus professed German ‘belonging’, Bavaria offered a poignant take on the question of Assimilation. My reference to landscape and customs indicates that German imaginaries (shared mythical, religious, racial and gendered constructs) are also at stake. Analysing the emotions, values and shared imaginaries that furnished the self-understanding of Bavarian society illuminates how these, as specifically ‘German’ conceptions, played a fundamental role in determining the place of Jews and Judaism in German society especially within the Weimar and Nazi eras – a place envisaged by Jews and Gentiles alike. By discerning how moral sentiments and values served to legitimise the position of Jews in German society, my project engages with the neglected debate surrounding the relationship between Jewry, Judaism, Heimat and Alpinismus which – as points of Jewish integration and exclusion within German society – were consequential to the ‘authentic belonging’ of German-Jewry.


Tabea Maja Judith Richardson

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

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.



Previous Students:


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 for a BA in History and Politics at the University of Durham, graduating in 2010. He went on to complete an MA in Modern History at the same institution, writing his thesis on the subject of identity amongst British Bangladeshis.

Joe completed his PhD at the Leo Baeck Institute and Queen Mary University of London in 2016. His thesis explores perceptions of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Germany’s Jewish communities between 1990 and 2005. His research interests include postwar German-Jewish history, Holocaust memory and migration studies. He currently works as a Research Associate at the German Historical Institute London on a project investigating Jewish refugees in India during the Second World War.


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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