Dr Helen Dampier, Senior Lecturer

Dr Helen Dampier

Senior Lecturer

Helen Dampier is Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural History. Her research and teaching reflect her critical interest in life writings, and in nineteenth and twentieth century South African history. Her work considers the histories of imperialism and apartheid in South Africa, life writings, nationalism, and the conjunction of gender/politics.

Current Teaching

Helen currently teaches a number of undergraduate modules including:

  • Trade, Colonisation & Empire
  • Slavery & Unfree Labour
  • Genocide & the Politics of Memory
  • Apartheid & After: Twentieth Century South Africa

At MA level Helen teaches the module:

  • Debating Documents of Life in Twentieth Century History

Research Interests

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, women in the development of Afrikaner nationalism in South Africa, and letters as a tool of women's politicking.

Helen was co-investigator on the ESRC-funded Olive Schreiner Letters Project, which made the extant letters of the South African writer and feminist Olive Schreiner fully and freely available for the first time. This publication of Schreiner's letters now provides the standard epistolary source material for Schreiner scholars worldwide. The project also produced a number of joint and individual publications concerning both letters and epistolarity, and Schreiner's political and cultural activities.

More recently Helen was principal investigator on the AHRC-funded Emily Hobhouse Letters Project, which explored the life and legacy of the British relief worker Emily Hobhouse (1860-1926). In 2019 the project produced two exhibitions on Hobhouse. The UK exhibition, 'War Without Glamour: Emily Hobhouse's Peace Activism 1899-1926', was displayed at the University of Huddersfield, Hull History Centre, the Alfred Gillett Trust, Leeds Beckett University, and Liskeard Museum in Cornwall, near Hobhouse's birthplace. In South Africa the project exhibition was entitled 'War Without Glamour: The Life and Legacy of Emily Hobhouse' and it was displayed at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein and hosted by the Free State Arts Festival.

In 2022 Helen joined the AHRC-funded project 'The Letters of Richard Cobden Online' project as a co-investigator. The project, led by Professor Simon Morgan, will use the letters of Victorian stateman Richard Cobden to explore active citizenship.

Dr Helen Dampier, Senior Lecturer

Ask Me About

  1. Feminism
  2. History

Selected Outputs

  • Dampier HC (2013) Identifying the Quotidian in the Heterotopic Universe of Olive Schreiner's Letters. In: Stanle L ed. The Documents of Life Revisted: Narrative and Biographical Methods for a 21st Century Critical Humanism. Ashgate,

  • Dampier HC (2005) 'Everyday Life' in Boer Women’s Testimonies of the Concentration Camps of the South African War, 1899-1902. In: Godfrey BS; Dunstall G ed. Crime and empire, 1840-1940. Willan Pub,

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