Personal profile

Personal profile

Rebecca Jinks is an historian of comparative genocide and humanitarianism. Before returning to Royal Holloway, where she completed her doctoral degree in 2013, she taught in the History departments of the University of East Anglia and the University of Exeter.

Her PhD thesis was published in 2016 with Bloomsbury, entitled Representing Genocide: The Holocaust as Paradigm?. It examines the ways in which representations of the Holocaust have influenced how other genocides are understood and represented, focusing on the ‘canonical’ cases of genocide – Armenia, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda – and the process by which they became canonised, using film, literature, photography, and memorialisation.

Her second research project explores women’s experiences during the Armenian and Yezidi genocides, and humanitarian responses and representations in the aftermath. The first article arising from the project, ‘“Marks Hard to Erase”: The Troubled Reclamation of “Absorbed” Armenian Women, 1919-1927’ was published in 2018 in The American Historical Review. After the armistice in 1918, an international relief effort (including the charity Near East Relief, and the League of Nations) sought to ‘rescue’ and ‘repatriate’ the thousands of Armenian women and children who had been ‘absorbed’ during into Turkish, Kurdish, or Bedouin households. Some of these women had been tattooed on their faces and hands, according to Bedouin custom; the article explores how their marks, which signified their histories of sexual violence, raised questions for some relief workers as to whether they were ‘fit’ to be part of the regeneration of the Armenian nation.

Rebecca currently holds an AHRC Research, Development and Engagement Fellow (2022-2024) to extend this initial research into a broader and comparative project, ‘Genocidal Captivity: (Re)Telling the Stories of Armenian and Yezidi Women Survivors’. She is working with three project partners (the Armenian Institute, The Wiener Holocaust Library, and Free Yezidi Foundation) and an internationally-renowned photojournalist (Claire Thomas) to compare the experiences and representation of Armenian women during and after 1915, and Yezidi women during and after the ISIS genocide of 2014. As well as a monograph aimed at a wider public, the project will collect oral testimonies of Yezidi women survivors, produce a comparative exhibition at the Wiener Holocaust Library which explores questions of voice and humanitarian representation, engage with NGOs on those same questions, and lead a peer workshop which considers the difficult question of how historians can best ‘write violence’.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions