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Contemporary archaeologist and historian to join Birkbeck under prestigious Fellowship scheme

Drs Breithoff and Marks will work on the contemporary archaeology of conflict, and the history of mind and medicine.

The Department of History, Classics and Archaeology will welcome two new academics in May 2019, funded by the UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships programme. The programme supports early career researchers with outstanding potential and aims to grow the supply of talented individuals needed to ensure that UK research and innovation continues to be world class. The department is the only department in the UK that has been successful in securing two Fellowships.

Material Memories: Archaeology, Heritage and Human Rights in South America

Dr Esther Breithoff will join Birkbeck from UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Her research is on the contemporary archaeology and heritage of conflict, with a focus on the Global South. Her work will build on the department’s already strong links with the British Museum, and establish new collaborations with the Argentine Forensics Anthropology Team.

Dr Breithoff said: “The UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship will allow me to build strong international partnerships and undertake fieldwork-based research on the material legacies of violence, as well as establish leadership activities and a challenge-led teaching programme engaging with some of the most pressing issues of our time, especially in relation to armed conflict and human rights.”

Cognitive Behavioural Therapies in Britain: Welfare, Society and the Individual since 1948

Dr Sarah Marks, who has been working on the Wellcome-funded Hidden Persuaders project at Birkbeck, will research the history of mind and mental health, particularly the development of modern psychotherapies. Her work will build on existing expertise in the department on medicine and the human sciences, and will forge new links with external organisations to make Birkbeck a leading centre for research, teaching and public engagement in this field.

Dr Marks said: “I’m pleased to be part of a group of multidisciplinary scholars at Birkbeck researching the social and political contexts of psychological treatments. The fellowship will enable me to use archives and oral histories to explore how contemporary debates in mental health policy and clinical practice are shaped by the past. Crucially, I’ll be researching the experiences of patients and service-users, whose voices are often marginalised in historical and policy studies."

Executive Dean of the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Professor Matthew Davies, said: “We are delighted at the appointments of these two exceptional early career scholars, as UKRI Future Leaders Fellows. They will strengthen the work of the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology in two strategic areas, the History of Mind and Mental Health, and in Contemporary Archaeology and Heritage. And they will contribute to the development of interdisciplinary research across the School as a whole by developing connections with colleagues across a range of specialisms.”

Head of the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Professor Jan Rüger, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome Esther Breithoff and Sarah Marks to the department. Their outstanding research projects bring together different disciplines and engage with important questions that have direct relevance for current debate. The fact that no other department in the country has been awarded two Future Leaders Fellowships underlines the world-leading quality of our research which feeds directly into our teaching.”

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