Dr Rebecca Jinks

Supervised by

  • Dan Stone First/primary/lead supervisor


Personal profile

I am currently awaiting the viva for my PhD, entitled ‘Representing Genocide: The Holocaust as Paradigm?’, which considers how Holocaust representations have influenced the representation of four other major twentieth-century genocides – Armenia, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda.

As well as writing two articles arising from my PhD research, I am working on an article-length project begun whilst holder of the first Raphael Lemkin Scholarship at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan, Armenia. This project seeks to tell the story of a particular historical experience in the years following World War I – that of the ‘rescue’ and ‘repatriation’ by American and European relief organisations of Armenian women who had been forcibly ‘absorbed’ into Turkish, Kurdish, or Bedouin households during the genocide of 1915. These organisations, amongst whom Near East Relief (NER) and the League of Nations stand out, administered refugee camps for the surviving remnants of the Armenian community, and, from 1916 until roughly 1927, also set about searching for and ‘repatriating’ the Armenian women and children who had been abducted from the deportation columns or sold by the Ottoman Turk gendarmes, had converted to Islam, and were living in Muslim households as wives, concubines, or household slaves. Special orphanages and Rescue Homes were set up to house them and begin the process of reintegrating them into the Armenian community, by offering classes in the Armenian language, the Bible, and by teaching them a trade. A very specific group within these survivors were women whose faces and hands had been tattooed according to Bedouin custom, to denote tribal and familial possession. Unlike the children, who were more easily reabsorbed into the community (and a staple of philanthropic giving), these women bore on their skin visible, permanent reminders of their ‘defilement’ by non-Christian men, which was of course a major taboo among Armenians and a source of much horror for Americans and Europeans. The plight of these women goes to the heart of the rescuers’ dilemma: on the one hand they wanted to restore them to the Armenian ‘nation’, but on the other, what was seen as their visible contamination made that a problematic and perhaps impossible goal. This project is concerned with the worldviews and reactions of the American and European relief workers, and how the experiences of Armenian women – in particular those who had been tattooed – were articulated discursively in the publicity campaigns ‘back home’, whose function was both to raise relief funds and to report back on the women’s reintegration and socialisation in the Rescue Homes.

My next major research project will cement my second research specialism, the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Its point of departure is the vicious destruction of urban centres during the 90s wars, which, alongside ethnic cleansing and genocide, was one of the defining characteristics of those wars: Sarajevo, Mostar, Vukovar and Dubrovnik were only the most famous of the sieges. By combining the methodologies of social history and anthropology, it seeks to explore the relationship between the experience of the extremely rapid post-1945 urbanisation in the former Yugoslavia and the contention, suggested anecdotally by commentators both during and after the wars, that it was precisely the urban newcomers (who had arrived in the city within the last generation and were often poorly integrated into the urban economy and society) who were amongst the first to join the various militias behind the guns in the hills surrounding the cities. Each of my three case studies - Zadar, Bihać, and Sarajevo - experienced a dramatic population increase after 1945, and each was subjected to an attack which went beyond purely ‘military’ tactics; nevertheless, each involved a regionally-specific historical dynamic and set of actors/aggressors. As a study of the links between urban ‘misintegration’ and urban violence, particularly in the context of acute economic and social crisis such as Yugoslavia was experiencing in the late 1980s, this project will thus offer a new perspective on the Yugoslav wars, one which both illuminates and complicates the focus on ethnicity and nationalism as explanatory factors. As well as connecting to the much older European history of fears of (and violence against) the city, and its contemporary context of urbanisation in Portugal, Greece, and Spain, as a study of urbanisation and the alienation of migrants, this project can also contribute in very topical ways to other scholarly enquiries into analogous cases of dislocation, resentment, and violence, such as the origins of ETA in the population displacement from the Basque rural interior, the demographics of recruitment to Peru’s Maoist guerrilla Sendero Luminoso, and the genealogy of urban violence in contemporary South Africa.


Visiting Tutor, Royal Holloway, University of London:

  • September 2012: teaching of HS2296: Genocide and HS3264/3265: The History and Historiography of the Holocaust (final year special subject course), Royal Holloway History Department.
  • September – December 2011: HS2015 Politics of Postwar Europe, seminar tutor for second-year survey course, Royal Holloway History Department.
  • January 2009 – January 2010: HS1007/8: Doing History, seminar tutor for first-year source-criticism course, Royal Holloway History Department.

Visiting Fellow Queen’s University (Canada) at their UK campus, Bader International Study Centre, East Sussex:

  • Winter Term 2010-2012, sole responsibility for setting up, organising and teaching HIST 295: ‘The Holocaust’.
  • Winter Term 2013, sole responsibility for setting up, organising and teaching INTS221: Genocide in the 20th Century.

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