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Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Victoria Biggs

Thesis title

'Desiring Another History: Storytelling, Community, and Memory Among Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Youth'


Inspired by a school project on The Diary of Anne Frank that took place in Bethlehem during the Second Intifada, this research analyses the fascinating ways in which histories are transmitted across boundaries through storytelling and literature. A boundary might be literal, such as the West Bank barrier; political, as exemplified by sectarian divides; or interpersonal, as with family generations. The project focuses on the experiences of Palestinian and Israeli Jewish high school students, examining the ways in which they use storytelling to interpret memory (both personal and collective) and how this process informs their conceptions of community and belonging.

Research interests

Integrated/bilingual education in conflict zones; forbidden histories in contested spaces; storytelling, memory, and post-memory in the aftermath of atrocity; literature of war and genocide; politics of segregation; liberation theology in education; feminist responses to militarism; mental illness and its representations in conflict situations.

Professional background

I have worked with young people who have learning difficulties and/or psychological problems in a variety of settings, from special needs colleges to psychiatric wards, using storytelling and creative writing as educational and therapeutic tools. In Bethlehem I volunteer with a cultural and creative arts centre that has a focus on peace education, serving women and young people drawn predominantly from an area with significant military presence.

Why I’m doing a PhD at HCRI

I was excited by the interdisciplinary nature of the centre, which allows medical doctors to work alongside historians and dramatists. I feel privileged to be able to draw on such a diverse range of knowledge and experience in the development of my own work.

Previous education

  • MA Jewish Studies (University of Manchester)
  • BA English Literature (University of Cambridge)

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