Dr Madeline White

Supervised by

Research interests

The Holocaust occupies a pervasive space in our collective consciousness: from vast quantities of books, films and television productions to museum exhibitions, public events and its position in the national curriculum, the subject is ubiquitous. The witness testimony, considered the ultimate authority in communicating the incomprehensible nature of the horror, is at the centre of them all. As we move towards a world in which survivors are no longer present to speak for themselves, the collection of oral testimony has increased exponentially in an attempt to preserve as many testimonies as possible for posterity.

Thus, the Holocaust has become the subject of the most prolific body of oral testimony in existence. This is in no small part due to our preoccupation with its lessons as a moral imperative for our time, but though respect for these sources is quite justified the corollary is a lack of critical analysis: we ascribe such a fundamental importance and value to these testimonies that we forget that they are as much a product of context – of time, place, and motivation – as any other historical source, and that to utilise them to their full potential they must be understood and approached analytically in these terms.

My research aims to approach these sources from precisely the angle I outline above to provide an overview of the changing relationship between history and the historiography of the Holocaust and the impact this has had on the reasons why and the processes by which these oral testimonies have been collected. I hope to prove in turn that there is an inherent relationship between the nature and content of oral testimonies and the circumstances surrounding their collection, such that it is imperative for these sources to be properly contextualised before being used by researchers and educators alike. 

 

My PhD research explored changes in Holocaust oral testimony in Britain and Canada from the 1960s to the present day, examining how our changing relationship with the past influences the questions we ask of testimony and determines the methodologies employed in its collection. More generally, my research interests include oral history theory, particularly oral history methodology and the re-use of archived oral history; Holocaust historiography; and the idea of testimony as narrative genre.

Educational background

2015-2016: MA in Holocaust Studies (Royal Holloway University of London)

2011-2014: BA in History (Royal Holloway University of London)

 

Funding & Awards

2018-2019
Friendly Hand Bursary for research visit to Vancouver, Canada. (£2088)

2018
GHS-DAAD Grant for languages tuition to attend the 20th International Summer Academy Sans Souci 2018 at the University of Potsdam (€850)

2015-2018
PhD: AHRC TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship (Tuition + Maintenance)

2016
Royal Holloway MA Holocaust Studies Annual Prize

2015-2016
MA Holocaust Studies: Davis Foundation Scholarship (Tuition + Maintenance)

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