Hanna Matt

Thesis title

Soviet Humanitarianism? The Soviet Society of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Disaster, Relief and Soviet Modernity in Central Asia.


My thesis examines how responses to ‘domestic’ crises contributed to the development of relief practices in late Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. It tries to understand how humanitarian relief was organised and practised in this specific historical context through the study of different groups of displaced persons, including refugees, prisoners of war and victims of famine. While the activities of the Soviet Red Cross and Red Crescent act as a starting point for the exploration of relief in Central Asia, the project takes an international approach to the study of relief and explores the transnational connections created by humanitarian aid. More broadly, I am interested in the history of humanitarianism, especially in non-western contexts and the history of the Soviet Union, famine, medicine and public health. My work also explores personal experiences of crisis, violence, and displacement.


  • Dr. Jo Laycock (History Department, Senior Lecturer in Migration History)
  • Prof. Bertrand Taithe (Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, Professor in Cultural History

Research interests

History of Humanitarianism, Non-western Variants of Humanitarianism, Soviet and Russian History, Central Asia, Personal Experiences of Crisis, Migration and Displacement, Refugees, Health

Teaching interests

  • HCRI10202 Introduction to Humanitarianism

Previous education

  • MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response, University of Manchester
    • Dissertation Title: Decentring the History of Humanitarian Aid: Socialist Solidarity and the GDR in Vietnam, 1965-1975
  • BA History (Hons), University of Manchester
    • Dissertation Title: Accompanying Unaccompanied Jewish Displaced Children in post-war Germany, 1945-1949. 

Why I'm doing a PhD at HCRI

During my Master’s degree, I found the interdisciplinary and innovative research environment of HCRI incredibly intellectually stimulating. I am looking forward to working on my PhD here and I am excited to be part of such a dynamic department.