Michelle Gordon

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Michelle Gordon is a researcher at the Hugo Valentin Centre, Uppsala University. She currently heads the research project “Entanglements of the British Empire, the Holocaust and the Perpetration of Extreme Violence”, funded by the Swedish Research Council. She holds a PhD in History from Royal Holloway, University of London and has specific research and teaching expertise in studies of genocide and mass violence, with a focus on British and German perpetrators, and histories of empire.


  • british empire
  • british representations of violence
  • european colonial violence
  • extreme violence
  • german colonialism
  • holocaust and genocide studies
  • imperial wars
  • kaiserreich


Denna text finns inte på svenska, därför visas den engelska versionen.

Entanglements of the British Empire, the Holocaust and the Perpetration of Extreme Violence

This three-year project analyses the entanglements of the British Empire and the Holocaust, related to contexts of racial violence and colonial worldviews. The central focus of this project is British troops who fought in colonial contexts during World War II and after. It analyses what British soldiers knew about the Holocaust throughout World War II and how they discussed, disseminated and processed this information, particularly in relation to racial perspectives. Drawing on a theoretical framework from studies on mass violence and transimperial history, this project examines how these troops understood and rationalised this violence. Not only did British troops fight Nazi Germany, they also fought in colonial contexts and many went on to participate in colonial warfare in the post-war period. These events are analysed within one analytical framework which assesses these men and their careers within a continuity, rather than treating their WWII and imperial careers as separate phenomena. This project works towards a more nuanced understanding of the historical contexts of the Holocaust and racism, as well as new knowledge on the entanglements of the British Empire, its World War II campaign and the Holocaust.

The 'Civilised' Nature of Nineteenth-Century Warfare? British and German Practices of Violence in Colonial and Intra-European Wars

This research project reassesses the role of British and German troops in committing extreme violence and atrocities in intra-European and colonial conflicts in nineteenth-century warfare. These research areas are traditionally studied separately but by comparing ‘civilised’/European warfare and ‘uncivilised’/colonial warfare my research will investigate how these two types of war informed one another. This research will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of how European colonial practices ‘came home’ in the genocidal intra-European violence of the twentieth century.


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Michelle Gordon