Dr Shirli Gilbert is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Southampton. She has previously held positions at the University of Cape Town and the University of Michigan.
Gilbert is a specialist in modern Jewish history with a focus on the Holocaust period. Her book Music in the Holocaust (Oxford University Press, 2005) examines the role of music in the Nazi ghettos and camps and the insight it offers into victims' responses. The book was a finalist for the American National Jewish Book Award and has been translated into Spanish and Japanese. It was also the basis for a large-scale educational website Music and the Holocaust. Her more recent research explores the ways in which the Holocaust shaped understandings of and responses to apartheid in South Africa (1948-1994). Several articles on the subject have already been published, and she is working on a monograph. As part of this broader project, she has helped curate the museum that will shortly be opened at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide centre.
Finally, she is leading a collaborative project on ‘The Holocaust and Racism in the Postwar World’, which was inaugurated with a conference in Sydney (2012) and follow-up meetings in Cape Town (2013) and London (2014). The project challenges the assumption of an unproblematic connection between the Holocaust and the discourse of multiculturalism and anti-racism, and through diverse case studies seeks to historicize how the Holocaust has informed engagement with concepts of ‘race’ and racism from the 1940s until the present. She is co-editing a volume on the subject with Dr Avril Alba from the University of Sydney.
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