Department of History

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Sam Knapton

Assistant Professor in History, Faculty of Arts



I am an Assistant Professor in History, and my work focuses on central and east-central Europe, displacement, and international humanitarianism. I received my PhD from Newcastle University (UK) in 2019 and previously worked at the University of East Anglia (UEA) between 2018-2022.

My first monograph, Occupiers, Humanitarian Workers, and Polish Displaced Persons in British-occupied Germany (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023) focuses on the interventions of those 'in the middle' between governing authorities and Displaced Persons (DPs) in post-war occupied Germany. I am also a co-creator of a global network focusing on the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) alongside Katherine Rossy (Carleton, Ottawa). Together, we have co-edited the first volume on UNRRA, Relief and Rehabilitation for a Postwar World: Humanitarian Intervention and the UNRRA (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023).

I was awarded and undertook a Junior Research Fellowship (2022) at the Pilecki Institute in Warsaw. My project focused on Anglo-Polish attempts to encourage repatriation through invoking interwar concepts of 'Polishness' and post-war ideas concerning 'nation-building'.

I have also published on Anglo-Polish-German relationships and issues concerning repatriation with European History Quarterly and within A Transnational History of Forced Migrants in Europe (eds) Michał Palacz and Bas Willems.

Teaching Summary

Alongside first-year survey modules The Contemporary World since 1945 and Learning History, I am the module convenor for a second-year autumn option, In the Heart of Europe: Histories of Modern… read more

Research Summary

There are three strands to my current research:

The first is on queer experiences of displacement in the immediate post-1945 period. The project seeks to not only highlight these 'hidden histories' but to also create and develop frameworks for tracing the histories of those who are "doubly-marginalised". One of the core elements of this work is using material culture to help us tell these stories. In partnership with the Queer Britain museum in London, a series of interdisciplinary workshops are being developed to focus on 'researching', 'teaching', and 'curating' these 'hidden histories'.

The second is based on research conducted during my Junior Research Fellowship in Warsaw (2022) which focused on the repatriation of Polish displaced persons from British-occupied Germany in the immediate post-1945 period. This research developed into focusing on "Polish" children as repatriates and nation-builders, and to what degree displaced children are able to have (or show) agency over their lives during these particularly tumultuous times.

The third concentrates on the the case of 500 Polish orphans who were rejected from Britain but found refugee in British-India under the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji, at Balachdi camp and traces notions of citizenship and belonging during the Second World War.

Recent Publications

Alongside first-year survey modules The Contemporary World since 1945 and Learning History, I am the module convenor for a second-year autumn option, In the Heart of Europe: Histories of Modern Poland, and a third-year spring option Saving Europe: Atrocity and Humanitarianism across the twentieth century. In 2024-25, I will be offering a year-long special subject class, Zero Hour: Germany, Poland, and post-war reconstruction in Europe, 1945-1955.

I am happy to supervise students on varied aspects of central and east-central European history, histories of internationalism, occupation studies, humanitarianism, refugee histories, and contested pasts through memory and representation.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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