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Jessica Rapson joined CMCI in 2013. She has previously been a lecturer at Royal Holloway, London South Bank University and Goldsmiths College, where she completed her PhD. Jessica holds a BA (Hons) in Critical Fine Art Practice (University of Brighton) and an MA in Cultural Memory (University of London). She has previously worked in Collections Management at Brighton Museum and the Wallace Collection, London.

Jessica has published widely on memory, commemoration and difficult heritage, including the monograph Topographies of Suffering: Buchenwald, Babi Yar, Lidice (Berghahn 2015), and edited collections on transcultural and planetary memory. She is a partner in the London Consortium for Cultural Memory Studies and the Mnemonics network for Memory Studies.

She is currently working on a British Academy/Leverhulme sponsored project entitled ‘Processing Memory: Heritage, Industry, and Environmental Racism in the American Gulf States’, and researching ‘Troubles Tourism’ in Northern Ireland. 

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Cultural memory and the politics of commemorative landscape
  • Culture, climate change and environmental and nuclear disaster
  • Transculturalism and cosmopolitanism
  • ‘Difficult’ heritage, dark tourism and cultural diplomacy

Jessica’s interdisciplinary research concerns the mediation and production of memory in culture and heritage, mainly in continental Europe and the Unites States. Bringing together scholarship in cultural memory and cultural geography, her monograph Topographies of Suffering, examines a range of commemorative Holocaust landscapes and related literature and media. Recent work includes an article on ‘planetary memory’ and climate change fiction in the US, a chapter on the remediation of memories of the Hiroshima nuclear attack, and a journal article on plantation tourism in the American South. Jessica has co-organised several conferences and seminars, including Transcultural Memory, Education and Memory, Memory and Restitution, and a series of events on memory and climate change for the project the Natural History of Memory.

Her current research, sponsored by the British Academy/Leverhulme,  examines the contemporary production of memory at heritage sites in the American South, in the context of contemporary environmental and socio-economic racial injustice (with Lucy Bond, University of Westminster). She is also working on a project about ‘Troubles Tourism’ in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with Melissa Nisbett (CMCI), and editing a collection of essays on New Directions in Memory and Literature (with Lucy Bond and Susannah Radstone).

Jessica is currently supervising and co-supervising several PhD students in CMCI. She welcomes applications for PhD topics related to any of her research interests. For more details, please see her full research profile.


Jessica teaches on topics related to her research interests in cultural memory, conflict, dark tourism and theories of transculturalism and cosmopolitanism, and provides MA and PhD supervision.

She has an ongoing interest in creative pedagogies in higher education, and has played a leading role in creating the Arts Based Research Project option in the department.

Jessica is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and was awarded a King’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2016 for Student Support. She is also the Graduate Teaching Assistant Lead for CMCI. 

Expertise and Public Engagement

Jessica has been an invited speaker at a number of events, from AHRC postgraduate training sessions to public forums on the Holocaust memory and education. She is regularly involved in peer review for academic publishers and a range of journals including Memory Studies, Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History; Gender, Space and Culture; Culture, Theory and Critique; Museum and Society; Palgrave (Pivot). Jessica also contributes online articles on commemoration to the international art magazine Apollo.