From the Pogroms to the Kindertransport: Humanitarianism and Refugee Relief in British Jewish Politics

Applications are invited for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award at the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).

Available from October 2023, this fully-funded studentship includes: payment of university fees throughout the funded period; a tax-free maintenance grant for your living costs at the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) minimum rate (£17,668 for 2022/23); an additional AHRC stipend of £550 per annum to support costs incurred by working with the partner organisation. Further details about the benefits of an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP award are available on the DTP’s studentships page.

Closing date: Friday 6 January 2023 (12:00 midday UK time)

Project overview

From the pogroms of the early 1900s, through the epidemic violence of World War One, to the plight of Jews seeking to flee Nazi Germany during the 1930s, international Jewish activists repeatedly had to engage with problems of disaster relief, mass migration, refugee crises and post-conflict reconciliation. Despite the pre-eminent role Britain played in shaping the international order, the role of British Jews in this story is poorly conceptualised and understood. There is a pressing need to integrate the history of British Jewish politics and activism within the histories of early 20th century humanitarianism and to consider the parallel, intersecting evolutions of Jewish and British humanitarian traditions during this formative period.

This project provides a unique opportunity to break open existing frameworks for thinking about British Jewish politics through the prism of humanitarianism and refugee relief under the supervision of one of the leading scholars in this field. Framed by two seminal episodes in British Jewish history, the student will work across the 1914-18 caesura, contemplating continuities and ruptures in the structures of Jewish humanitarianism, and the strategies British Jewish activists deployed. Relevant themes include the role of (non-Christian) religions in British humanitarian activism; the role of children in both British and Jewish humanitarianism; the role of the Anglo-Jewish elite and the gendered nature of Jewish humanitarian and political activism.

This CDA emerges from the “Politics and Philanthropy” strand of Oxford’s “Jewish Country Houses project” which is currently the nexus of a dynamic network of scholars and graduate students. Working with the HET the student will be supported to embed research impact throughout their project, via engagement with teachers and the production of curriculum resources drawing directly on their PhD research, thereby acquiring a range of key skills and an ability to engage a wider public relevant both within the academy and beyond.

Published primary sources, and specialist archival holdings in Britain and abroad provide obvious pathways for research; there is also the potential to conduct oral history interviews. Working closely with Dr. Jenny Carson at the HET, the student will benefit from her scholarly expertise in the field of British humanitarianism, and from the HET’s position at the heart of an international network of interrelated organisations, scholars and experts. Established partnerships with organisations, archives and educational institutions in the UK and overseas, including the Association of Jewish Refugees and individual Kindertransportees, will be a rich resource for the successful applicant.

The first year of this studentship will coincide with the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport, the second with the 80-year commemorations of the end of the Second World War and the planned opening of the UK Holocaust Memorial in London. The student’s developing expertise will allow them to participate actively in these broader national conversations, helping to steer the HET through these discussions and to engage its staff in the research process more broadly.


The university supervisor is Abigail Green, Professor of Modern European History, University of Oxford. The student will be based in the Faculty of History, which houses a research community of up to 800 senior academics and graduate students, all contributing to a varied menu of research seminars, lectures, academic societies, and other events which cover a wide range of topics. 

The student will benefit from the active supervision of the partner supervisor, Dr. Jenny Carson, Holocaust Educational Trust. 

How to apply

We invite applications from candidates from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Applicants will have a background in modern history, with an established interest in late 19th/20th century and in either Jewish history, international history, or modern British history, perhaps with a focus on refugee relief and/or the history of humanitarianism. A reading knowledge of at least one relevant language is desirable, as is a willingness to further develop language skills. Applicants should meet the eligibility criteria for Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC studentships.

For an informal discussion about the opportunity and how you might frame your approach to the CDA project, please contact Abigail Green (on in the first instance.

You should apply to the DPhil in History by Friday 6 January 2023 (midday, UK time), indicate your interest in being considered for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP studentship and submit a completed copy of the OOC DTP Application Form at the same time.

Further details on how to apply for a studentship through Oxford can be found on our How to Apply page. Please include a reference to the advertised CDA title in your application form; you do not need to include a reference number.