Research at Leeds Beckett
Dr Helen Dampier
About Dr Helen Dampier
Helen's research and teaching reflect her critical interest in life writings of all kinds, and the ways in which such writings are used as historical sources. She is also substantively concerned with nineteenth and twentieth century African and South African history, and especially in gender-related topics within these fields. The main lines of her intellectual concerns involve the histories and politics of imperialism and then apartheid in South Africa, life writings, nationalism studies and the conjunction of gender/politics.
Helen obtained an MA in History at Rhodes University in South Africa before completing her PhD in Sociology at the University of Newcastle in the UK. Her doctoral and subsequent research critically examined women's testimonies of the 1899-1902 South African War, and especially the manner and context in which women represented their experiences of the concentration camps established by the British during the war, and to what political ends. More recently Helen has been co-investigator on the Olive Schreiner Letters Project. This Project has researched and published the complete letters of the South African feminist writer Olive Schreiner (1855 - 1920) online (www.oliveschreiner.org). Helen's research on epistolarity and on the particularities of Olive Schreiner's letters not least their illumination of the South African past continues.
A member of the UK Women's History Network, Helen is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. She has presented her research at national and international conferences and has a number of single- and joint-authored publications.
Helen currently teaches a number of undergraduate modules including "Trade, Colonisation & Empire", "Race & Slavery" and "Life Writing in Twentieth Century History". She also contributes to the team-taught modules "Emergence of Modern Europe" and "History & Culture in Twentieth Century Europe".
Helen's research is strongly interdisciplinary and its broad thematic concerns include memory, life writing, and historiography and its claims. Its substantive focus is on the history of South Africa, and it has critically examined the use of life writings and especially women's testimonies as historical sources, the political aftermaths of the 1899-1902 South African War, and the role of women in the development of Afrikaner nationalism in South Africa.
More recently Helen has been the co-investigator on the Olive Schreiner Letters Project, which has made the extant letters of the South African writer and feminist Olive Schreiner fully and freely available for the first time (see: www.oliveschreiner.org). This publication of Schreiner's letters now provides the standard epistolary source material for Schreiner scholars worldwide, and is likely to have an extensive impact on research in women's history and South African history. The Project has also produced a number of joint and individual publications concerning both letters and epistolarity, and Schreiner's political and cultural activities.