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Archaeology and History

Photo of Dr Rachel Pistol

Dr Rachel Pistol

Honorary Research Fellow


Rachel is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, and worked on an interdisciplinary ESRC project using data analysis, databases, and OCR software. Post-Exeter she moved to work at King's College London on the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) and is the National Co-ordinator for EHRI-UK. She completed her BA, MA, and PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London under the supervision of the late Professor David Cesarani OBE. Whilst studying for her doctorate she lectured in History at Royal Holloway, winning the College Postgraduate Teaching Prize in 2016 for her innovative teaching methods. She also held a lectureship at Kingston University in Business Information Systems and Quantitative Methods.

For more information about Rachel's work, visit her website.

Rachel Pistol is a public speaker and author on immigration history and Second World internment in the UK and the USA. She is particularly interested in the individual experiences and the memory of internment. She is currently researching the memory and memorialisation of internment camps, refugee experiences in the UK, refugee trajectories, and digital approaches to immigration and internment history.

Rachel's research interests include:

  • Immigration and refugee history
  • Second World War internment in the UK
  • Internees deported from the UK to Canada and Australia
  • Second World War internment in the USA
  • Parallels between the history of the 1930s and 1940s and current events
  • Commemoration and the preservation of historical sites
  • Internment camp economies
  • The history of racism and discrimination
  • Information management and data analysis
  • Digital research methods

Rachel has appeared on the BBC and Sky News and been interviewed for various television documentaries. She has written several articles for The Conversation that have been reprinted both in the UK and the USA, most notably in Newsweek and The Independent.

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External impact and engagement


I regularly appear on news and radio to discuss refugees, xenophobia, racism, and the history of internment. To keep up to date with my latest appearances, see my website.

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I completed my BA (2006), MA (2009) and studied part-time for my doctorate (2009-2016) at Royal Holloway, University of London, under the supervision of Professor David Cesarani OBE. I was the recipient of two grants from the Friendly Hand Charitable Trust in 2010 and 2011, which enabled me to visit archives and sites of former internment camps in the United States of America and on the Isle of Man.

I currently teach a unit on refugee history in the 1930s and 1940s for the University of Cambridge and lecture on Digital Research Methods at King's College London. From 2014 to 2016 I taught Modern British, Modern American, and British Economic history to undergraduates at Royal Holloway, University of London. I was also a Lecturer in Informatics at Kingston University from 2011 to 2016.

Select publications:

'From Truman to Trump: Presidents' Use and Abuse of the Incarceration of Japanese Americans, Presidential Studies Quarterly 51, 2 (2021), pp. 385-403.

'Asian American responses to Donald Trump's anti-Asian rhetoric and misuse of the history of Japanese American incarceration', Comparative American Studies, 17, 3-4 (2020), pp. 296-311.

The Jews, the Holocaust and the Public: The Legacies of David Cesarani, eds. Rachel Pistol and Larissa Allwork (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

Internment during the Second World War: A Comparative Study of Great Britain and the USA (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)

'Heavy Is the Responsibility for All the Lives That Might Have Been Saved in the Pre-war Years': British Perceptions of Refugees 1933-1940, European Judaism, 50, 2 (2017), pp. 42-49.

“Enemy alien and refugee: Conflicting identities in Great Britain during the Second World War”, University of Sussex Journal of Contemporary History, 16 (2015), pp. 37-52

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