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Personal profile


Dr Chelsea Sambells is a Research Fellow in the History Subject Area and Head of Research at the Holocaust Survivors' Friendship Association (including the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre) in Huddersfield. Dr Sambells began her career in Communication Studies, gaining two degrees at the University of Calgary before transitioning to the field of history. At the University of Edinburgh, she gained both a MSc and PhD in modern history. In October 2017, she gained a research affiliation with the University of Glasgow. Having initially joined the University of Huddersfield for a temporary lectureship in September 2018, she lectures on the first-year module ‘The Modern World,’ and the popular second-year module ‘Hitler's Germany: Life and Death in the Third Reich’. She also co-teaches research methodologies for first and second-year undergraduates, while contributing her own original research to the history curricula and wider university community.   

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Modern European history

  • History of humanitarianism
  • Transnational and global history

  • Children and youth

  • The Holocaust and genocides
  • Oral history

  • Communications and rhetoric in war

Dr Sambells has a number of research projects underway. In 2020, Dr Elisabeth Möckli (Freiburg/Geneva) and Dr Sambells were awarded the SPARK fund (75,000CHF) from the Swiss National Science Foundation for an international, collaborative project at the University of Geneva's Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, entitled ‘Humanitarian Action and Translation: Exploring Switzerland’s Language Practices and Policies in the Red Cross Child Evacuations during the Second World War’. This 18-month project will investigate the strategic importance of translation and interpreting within Swiss humanitarian intervention, especially between governments and NGOs. By analysing the international campaign of Switzerland’s Red Cross child evacuations in WWII as a case study, this project will closely examine the history of Swiss translation policies and their impact upon relief practises. Given Switzerland’s reputation as a global leader in humanitarian action and advocacy, this project seeks to critically assess and reposition the valuable connection between language and humanitarian action.

Dr Sambells’ research investigates the evacuation of 60,000 French and Belgian children to Switzerland (1940-1945), to better understand how governments and humanitarian organizations have historically and culturally protected children in war. In conjunction with finalising her monograph about this transnational humanitarian operation, The Exceptional Evacuation (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2021), Dr Sambells also plans to apply for project funding (with Prof Christine Hallett) for a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants and/or the Wellcome Trust Small Grant to develop an interdisciplinary oral history project on childhood trauma and evacuation. This funding will allow Dr Sambells to interview former evacuees and to cast new light on unexplored areas of childhood memories, and how evolving conceptions of rights and international humanitarian norms were embodied and experienced by child recipients.

Dr Sambells is fascinated by how warring nations treat children (especially within large humanitarian operations that often fail to fully protect children due to the greater priorities of warfare) as well as children’s experiences of warfare and resettlement. For a list of ongoing projects please see: https://chelseasambells.com

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Migration
  • Children and Youth
  • Transnationalism
  • History of Nazi Germany
  • Communication Studies
  • 20th century
  • Second World War
  • rhetoric
  • Oral History
  • Holocaust


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