Dr Anna Koch

Profile

I have received my PhD in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History from New York University in May 2015. Before coming to Leeds, I have taught European and Jewish history at University College London, the University of Southampton and at the University of York. I have held fellowships at the Center for Jewish History in New York City and the German Historical Institute in Rome, and in 2017/18 I was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah.

Research interests

My research combines transnational and comparative approaches in order to enhance our understanding of national belonging, identity construction, and histories of violence, exile and displacement in Twentieth Century Europe. My book manuscript titled Home after Fascism: Italian and German Jews after the Holocaust relies on sources in four languages from over twenty archives in order to provide a comparative study of European Jews after 1945. This work brings to light the complex, fragile and often fraught relationships surviving Jews rebuilt with the countries that had ostracized them. Highlighting the fractured and fluid nature of national belonging, my work argues that returning Jews’ sense of home was tightly intertwined with the distinct East German, West German and Italian national discourses about the most recent past and highlights the surprising similarities in Italian and East German Jews’ contribution to and reliance on antifascist narratives. Looking at postwar experiences on both sides of the Iron Curtain, this work breaks with scholarship that tends to look at either Eastern or Western Europe’s postwar histories. My research moves beyond existing literature not only in its comparative and transnational approach, but also in its close methodological attention to language, discourses and emotions. The manuscript is under review with Indiana University.

My second book project, titled ‘Suspicious Comrades: German Communists of Jewish Origin between Nazism and Stalinism’ examines the lives of German Jewish communists beginning with their choice to join the communist movement in the 1920s, through years of persecution and exile, to the establishment of the German Democratic Republic in 1949. It examines the meanings these people invested in their Jewishness as well as their shifting relationships to antifascism, communism and their German homeland. Engaging with scholars from a variety of disciplines, in particular literary theory, gender studies and post-colonial studies this research contributes to theoretical discussion of how to conceptualize individuals’ self-understanding. This work also transcends national borders as it explores Jews’ experiences in their various places of exile, examines the establishment of transnational networks and analyses cross-border discussions about Germany’s future.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • PhD Department of History and Hebrew & Judaic Studies (joint program), New York
  • Magister Artium, Modern History, Medieval History, Political Science, Ludwig-Maximilians University

Student education

At Leeds I teach undergraduate and postgraduate modules on the Representation and Memory of the Holocaust.