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Professor David Tollerton

Associate Professor in Memory Studies


01392 724238

My research centres on how societies understand and memorialise events of suffering. Much of this has focused on responses to the Holocaust, though has more recently also incorporated research on emerging memorialisation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During 2023-24 I am President of the British and Irish Association for Holocaust Studies and I am currently co-editing a special issue of Holocaust Studies focused on the relationship between genocide and ecocide. 

With regard to work on societal responses to COVID-19, my recent AHRC-funded project partnered with the Marie Curie charity and their ‘National Day of Reflection’ initiative. Looking at the wider picture of how memorialisation of the pandemic is beginning to develop in Britain, and drawing comparatively on historic precedents, the project considered the social, political, and religious elements of how we begin to develop new public rituals and memorial spaces amidst experiences of Covid-19. The project report is published here

My most recent book is Holocaust Memory and Britain’s Religious-Secular Landscape, published with Routledge in 2020. It was based on a Leverhulme Trust fellowship held during 2019-2020 and is the first study to examine Holocaust remembrance and British religiosity/secularity in relation to one another. Its first half gives attention to the varied meanings of public Holocaust memory for Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and post-Christian communities. In its second half, focus turns to the ways in which state-supported Holocaust remembrance activities are intertwined with perceptions of sacredness. This incorporates the study of ritual memorialisation events, the creation of new sacred space, and the curation of pilgrimage to Holocaust sites. The monograph breaks new ground as an interdisciplinary treatment of Holocaust studies and religious studies, arguing that critical consideration of this interface is necessary for a better understanding of both contemporary British public life and for a sustainable culture of remembrance and national self-examination.

Alongside further research on emerging memorialisation of COVID-19, I am also planning future work on the Holocaust and comparison (i.e. the history of debates surrounding comparison between the Holocaust and other historical or contemporary events). 


Research interests

The majority of my research to date has focused on Holocaust memory. Key publications include Holocaust Memory and Britain’s Religious-Secular Landscape (Routledge 2020) and The Book of Job in Post-Holocaust Thought (2012). Other recent and forthcoming work in this area includes publications on colonialism and Holocaust memory, as well as the intersections between genocide and ecocide. 

I recently led an AHRC-funded project on emerging memorialisation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnered with the Marie Curie charity, it draws together organisations concerned with how we remember and grieve amidst the pandemic, and academics concerned with memorialisation practices. The project report is available here.

Research supervision

I am currently supervising a range of projects on Holocaust memory and other areas. 

Please do get in touch to discuss potential projects on Holocaust studies, memory studies, and societal responses to COVID-19. Have a look at the other profile tabs to see more detail concerning my current work. I am happy to discuss research proposals on any related area so do feel free to get in touch via

External impact and engagement

I have written on Holocaust memory, contemporary politics, and COVID-19 for The Independent, The GuardianThe Times Higher Education, and The Conversation, as well as speaking on BBC radio and at a range of public and school events in around the country. Here are a range of media and blog pieces published:

'Diane Abbott’s Suggestion that Jews Don’t Experience Racism is Not Only Absurd – But Dangerous'The Independent, 24 April 2023.

'Gary Lineker Compared the Goverment’s Asylum Policy to 1930s Nazi Germany. Is That Ever Okay?', The Independent, 10 March 2023.

'There’s a Better Way to Mark the Pandemic than Praising "Heroes" and "Sacrifice", The Independent, 23 March 2022.

‘What can History Tell Us About How to Memorialise the Pandemic?’, Talkabout published by the Marie Curie Trust, 3 August 2020.

‘The Role of Sacrality in British State-Supported Holocaust Remembrance’, LSE British Politics and Policy blog, 25 June 2020.

‘De-Globalised Holocaust Memory and Cultural-Religious Diversity in Britain’, LSE Religion and Global Society blog, 19 February 2020.

‘David Cameron’s For The Record and Public Holocaust Memory’, The British Association for Holocaust Studies blog, 10 November 2019.

'Comparisons Between US Immigration Policy and the Nazi Period may not be Helpful, But They are Hard to Avoid', The Conversation, 25 June 2018.

'Scrap Thought for the Day - For the Love of All that is Holy', The Conversation, 2 November 2017.

'The Problem with London's New Holocaust Memorial', The Conversation, 26 October 2017.

'The Six-Day War and 21st Century Religion in the Public Sphere', Religion Bulletin, 6 June 2017.

'Easter Egg Row is an Undercooked Mess that Feeds English Nationalism', The Conversation, 5 April 2017.

‘In the Age of Trump, Why Bother Teaching Students to Argue Logically?’ The Guardian, 15 November 2016.

‘Universities Should Not Just Condemn “Zionist bashing”, But Also Educate’, Times Higher Education, 10 May, 2016.

‘Should We Compare the Refugee Crisis and the Holocaust in the Lecture Hall?’ Times Higher Education, 8 September 2015.

‘Texas Shooting is a Pointless Chapter in the Story of Intolerance and Extremism’, The Conversation, 8 May 2015.

‘Comparing Hamas to Biblical Cult of Child-Killers is Neither Accurate Nor Helpful’, The Conversation, 20 August 2014.

Contribution to discipline

  • President of the British and Irish Association for Holocaust Studies (2023-24)
  • Secretary of the British Association for Jewish Studies (2019-2023)
  • Co-chair of the AAR 'Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit'
  • Editorial board member for Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and Histor



I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and was recently nominated by my students for several Guild teaching awards.

Modules taught

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