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Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls

  • Job title: Professor Of Conflict Archaeology
  • Department: School of Law, Policing and Forensics

Background

I am a Professor in Conflict Archaeology and Genocide Investigation at Staffordshire University specialising in Holocaust studies. I am also the Director of the Centre of Archaeology. I teach in the areas of forensic archaeology, techniques in the identification of human remains and various aspects of crime scene investigation. I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a BA(Hons) Archaeology and Ancient History in 2007 and an MPhil(B) in Archaeological Practice in 2008. I also completed my PhD thesis entitled ‘Holocaust Archaeology: Archaeological Approaches to Landscapes of Nazi Genocide and Persecution’, at the University of Birmingham. My research focuses on the application of interdisciplinary approaches to the investigation of Holocaust landscapes. As part of this research, I completed the first archaeological surveys of the former extermination camp at Treblinka (Poland), the sites pertaining to the slave labour programme in Alderney (the Channel Islands), the former Semlin Judenlager and Anhaltlager (Serbia) and killing sites in Poland and Ukraine. I have also worked on a pilot project with the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation (UKHMF) to map the terrain of Bergen-Belsen (Germany) and I was a member of the UKHMF Education Advisory Group, appointed by the UK Government from 2015-2018. In August 2015, I installed a new permanent exhibition entitled “Finding Treblinka” at the Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom in Treblinka based on the findings of my research. I am currently the Principal Investigator of three major projects focused on conflict and genocide investigation. In 2020, I was invited to deliver the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture organised by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), a highly prestigious lecture that honors excellence in research and fosters dissemination of scholarly work in Holocaust Studies.

I have published extensively in Holocaust and forensic archaeology and, in 2015, I published a book entitled Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions. From the end of August until the end of December 2016, I was a Visiting Fellow at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where I was working on my forthcoming book, Finding Treblinka. My research has received international media attention via television documentaries and radio programmes aired in Europe and the US. I have held visiting fellowships at Goldsmiths College, London (Forensic Architecture Project) and Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (Terrorscapes Project). I also act as a Scientific Advisor for Kamp Westerbork, sit on the NWO Holocaust Archaeology Group and I am a Consultant for the Polish-German Reconciliation Foundation. As a practicing forensic archaeologist, I also undertake consultancy for UK Police forces with regards the search and recovery of buried remains. My particular interests in this field include the application of forensic archaeological methods to the investigation of cold cases and socio-historic conflicts. I am a member of the Forensic Archaeology Expert Panel and Treasurer of the Forensic Archaeology Special Interest Group. I am also a Member of the Chartered Institute For Archaeologists (MCIFA) and a Member (MCSFS) and approved assessor for the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS) University Accreditation Scheme. My interests in archaeology also go beyond the recent past and I have undertaken fieldwork in Greece, the Western Isles of Scotland and a number of sites in England.

Publications

Books

  • Sturdy Colls, C. (In Prep.) Finding Treblinka. Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Colls, K. (In Prep). Adolf Island: The Nazi Occupation of Alderney. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Ehrenreich, R., Klinger, J., Pizzorno, G. and Sturdy Colls, C. (In Prep). Material Culture of Difficult Histories. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Morewitz, S. and Sturdy Colls, C. (eds). (2016). Handbook of Missing Persons. New York: Springer. More Information
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Branthwaite. (2015). Treblinka: Archaeological and Artistic Responses. Centre of Archaeology Book Series: Special Issue. Amazon Createspace. More information
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2015). Finding Treblinka: An Exhibition of Forensic Archaeological Research. Exhibition Catalogue. Stoke-on-Trent: Staffordshire University.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2015). Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions. New York: Springer. For more information
  • Forensic Architecture (ed). (2014). Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth. Berlin: Sternberg Press. For more information
  • Hunter, J. Simpson, B. and Sturdy Colls, C. (2013). Forensic Approaches to Buried Remains. Wiley, London. For more information

Book Chapters

  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Mitchell, W. (In Press). “An Example of Nazi Kultur”: Paradigmatic and Contested Materiality at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. In: Saunders, N. and Cornish, P. Contested Landscapes. London, Routledge.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (In Press). Holocaust Archaeologies and Investigations at Sites of Nazi Persecution. In: Staniewska, A. and Domanska, E. Ekshumacje polityczne. Teoria i praktyka [Political Exhumations. Theory and Practice]. Gdansk, słowo obraz / terytoria.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Branthwaite, M. (In Prep). Representing and Exhibiting Archaeological Findings Through Artistic Practice. In: Ehrenreich, R., Klinger, J., Pizzorno, G. and Sturdy Colls, C. Material Culture of Difficult Histories. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Kerti, J., Sturdy Colls, C. and Swetnam, R. (In Prep). Visualising the Holocaust: Forensic Archaeological Representations of Sylt Labour and Concentration Camp. In: Walden, V. (ed.) Holocaust Memory, Education and Research in the Digital Age. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Colls, K. (2020). The Heart of Terror: A Forensic and Archaeological Assessment of the Old Gas Chambers at Treblinka. In: Vareka, P. and Symonds, J. Archaeologies of Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism, and Repression: Dark Modernities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (due for publication August 2020)
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2017). ‘The Archaeology of Cultural Genocide: A Forensic Turn in Holocaust Studies?’. In Z. Dziuban (ed.), Mapping the ‘Forensic Turn’: The Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond, New Academic Press, Vienna.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2016). The Investigation of Historic Missing Persons Cases: Genocide and ‘Conflict Time’ Human Rights Abuses. In Morewitz, S. and Sturdy Colls, C. (eds). Handbook of Missing Persons. New York: Springer. More Information
  • Bartelink, E., Milligan, C. and Sturdy Colls, C. (2016). The Role of Forensic Archaeology in Missing Persons Investigations. In Morewitz, S. and Sturdy Colls, C. (eds). Handbook of Missing Persons. New York: Springer. More Information
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2016). ‘Earth conceal not my blood’: forensic and archaeological approaches to locating the remains of Holocaust victims’ In: Dreyfus, J-M. and Anstett, E. Human remains in society: Curation and exhibition in the aftermath of genocide and mass-violence. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Open Access
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2015). Badania archeologiczne w Obozie Zaglady i Karnym Obozie Pracy w Treblince. In: Kopówka, E. Treblinka: Historia i Pamięc. Siedlce: Muzeum Walki i Męczeństwa w Treblince.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2015). ‘Learning from the Present to Understand the Past: Forensic and Archaeological Approaches to Sites of the Holocaust’ in International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Killing Sites. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 61-78.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Colls, K. (2014). Reconstructing a painful past: A non-invasive approach to reconstructing Lager Norderney in Alderney, the Channel Islands. In Ch’ng, E. (ed.) Visual Heritage in the Digital Age. New York: Springer.
  • Hunter, J. and Sturdy Colls, C. (2013). ‘Forensic Archaeology’ in Siegel, J. Knuffler, G. and Saukko, P. Encyclopaedia of Forensic Sciences. 3rd edition. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, London.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2013). Ocena archeologiczna teren bylego Obozu Zaglady w Treblince/Archaeological Survey of the Former Extermination Camp at Treblinka. Co wiemy o Treblince? Stan Badan. Warsaw (in Polish and English).

Papers

  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Ehrenreich, R. (2020, In Press). Value in Context: Material Culture and Treblinka. Current Anthropology
  • Sturdy Colls, C., Colls, K. and Kerti, J. (2020). Tormented Alderney: Archaeological Investigations at the Nazi Labour and Concentration Camp at Sylt. Antiquity 94(374): 512-532.
  • Abate, D., Sturdy Colls, C., Moyssi, N., Karsili, D., Faka, M., Anilir, A. and Manol, S. (2019). Optimizing Search Strategies in Mass Grave Location Through the Combination of Digital Technologies. Forensic Science International: Synergy 1: 95-107. Open Access
  • Sturdy Colls, C. (2018). Holocaust Victims, Jewish Law and the Ethics of Archaeological Investigations. Accessing Campscapes: Inclusive Strategies for Using European Conflicted Heritage 3: 32-41. Open Access
  • Sturdy Colls, C., Bolton-King, R., Colls, K., Harris, T. and Weston, C. (2018). Proof of Life: Mark-Making Practices on the Island of Alderney. European Journal of Archaeology 22(2): 232-254. View published article or download pre-print draft from eprints
  • Abate, D. and Sturdy Colls, C. (2018). A Multi-Level and Multi-Sensor Documentation Approach of the Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps. Journal of Cultural Heritage 34: 129-135. Download a free copy
  • Abate, D., Toshi, I., Sturdy Colls, C. and Remondino, I. (2017). Low-Cost Panoramic Camera for the 3D Documentation of Contaminated Crime Scenes. Archives of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, XLII-2: 1-8.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Branthwaite, M. 2017. ‘This is proof”? Forensic evidence and ambiguous material culture at Treblinka extermination camp’. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 22: 430-453. DOI 10.1007/s10761-017-0432-3. View article
  • Carr, G. and Sturdy Colls, C. 2016. Taboo and sensitive heritage: labour camps, burials and the role of activism in the Channel Islands. International Journal of Heritage Studies 22(9), DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2016.1191524.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. ‘Non-invasive archaeology’, The Bagel Shop 2: 13-14.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. 2016. Investigating Holocaust-Era Crimes. European Journal of Archaeology 19(4); https://www.e-a-a.org/EAA/EAA/Navigation_Publications/TEA_content/Research.aspx
  • Sturdy Colls, C. 2015. Mapping Nazi Terror: Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps. Proceedings of the Archaeology of Violence: Archaeology of War, Archaeology of Mass Violence Conference, France. [In French] Sturdy Colls, C. 2016. Une cartographie de la terreur nazie : études archéologiques dans les camps de travail et d’extermination de Treblinka. In: Guilaine, J. and Semelin, J. Violences de guerre, violences de masse. Une approche archéologique. Paris: Le Decouverte.
  • Sturdy Colls, 2015. ‘Uncovering a Painful Past: Archaeology and the Holocaust’. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 17 (1) 38-55 [Available at: Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites].
  • Sturdy Colls, C. 2014. ‘Gone but not forgotten: Archaeological approaches to the landscape of the former extermination camp at Treblinka, Poland’, Holocaust Studies and Materials 3. Available as an e-book Gone but not forgotten.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. and Colls, K. 2013. The Alderney Archaeological Research Project 2010-2012. Alderney Society Bulletin.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. 2013. The Archaeology of the Holocaust. British Archaeology 130, p. 50-53
  • Sturdy Colls, C. 2012. Holocaust Archaeology: Archaeological Approaches to Landscapes of Nazi Genocide and Persecution. Journal of Conflict Archaeology 7(2), 71-105. Available from: http://maneypublishing.com/index.php/journals/jca/
  • Sturdy Colls, C. 2012. O tym, co minelo, lecz nie zostalo zapomniane. Badania archeologiczne na terenie bylego obozu zaglady w Treblince. Zaglada Zydow. Studia i Materialy 8 (in Polish), 77-112. For more information see: http://www.zagladazydow.org/?l=a&lang=pl

Exhibitions

  • Finding Treblinka exhibition at the Wiener Library, London, July-October 2016
  • Finding Treblinka at the Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom in Treblinka, August 2014-present.

Recent Invited Lectures

  • Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture: ‘Holocaust Archaeologies: Materiality, Methods, and Representation’, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and Santa Clara University, California, February 2020.
  • Panel Discussion: Sites of Trauma, Sites of Memory: Understanding Victims’ Experiences of Persecution’, Santa Clara Educational Forum: Representations of Nazi Persecution in Nazi Germany and Northern California, Santa Clara University, February 2020.
  • ‘A Window into Hell: Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labor Camps’, Stanford University, February 2020.
  • ‘Historical and Archaeological Research at Alderney Labor and Concentration Camps’, Stanford University, February 2020.
  • Keynote Address: “Ordinary Things?: Reconsidering the Value and Representation of Holocaust Material Culture” and workshop session, Material Culture and the Holocaust Symposium”, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), Washington DC, United States, October 2018
  • ‘Holocaust Archaeologies’, Historical Fictions Research Network Conference, Trentham, UK, 24th-25th February 2018
  • “Finding Treblinka: Forensic and Archaeological Approaches to Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps”, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Creighton University, Omaha and Kansas University, USA, April 2017.
  • “Forensic Approaches to Buried Remains”, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA, April 2017.
  • “Holocaust Killing Sites”, Jagellonian University Day Seminar at The History Meeting House, Warsaw, Poland, March 2017.
  • “Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology”, Academy of Forensic Medical Sciences Idenitification Course, Queen Mary University, London, February 2017.
  • “What the Nazis Tried to Hide: Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps”, Holocaust Archaeologies Day Conference, Royal Holloway, London, UK, March 2017.
  • “Finding Treblinka: Forensic and Archaeological Approaches to Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps”, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Fellows’ Presentation, Washington DC, USA, December 2016.
  • The Use of Technology for Examining Jewish Cemeteries’, European Jewish Cemeteries conference, Vilnius, October 2015.
  • Keynote speech entitled ‘What Lies Beneath? Forensic Archaeological Approaches to Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps’, British Association of Holocaust Studies conference, Birmingham, United Kingdom, July 2015.
  • To Dig or not to Dig, “That Is the Question”. Reconsidering Archaeological Approaches to Holocaust Landscapes, The Forensic Turn in Holocaust Studies? (Re-) Thinking the Past Through Materiality conference. The Wiesenthal Institute, Vienna, Austria, June 2015.
  • Keynote Speech entitled ‘Earth Conceal Not My Blood: Forensic and Archaeological Approaches to Locating Human Remains of Holocaust Victims’, 3rd Annual Corpses of Mass Violence and Genocide Conference, Manchester, September 2014.
  • ‘Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology’, Lecture delivered at the Academy of Forensic Medical Sciences, London. Annual event since 2011.
  • ‘Holocaust Archaeology CPD Event for Teachers’, Institute of Education at the University of London, December 2013.

Conference Presentations and Workshops

  • ‘Value in Context: Material Culture and Treblinka’, (with Robert Ehrenreich), ‘Contemporary Collections: Contested and Powerful’ conference, September 2018
  • ‘A Career in Conflict: Archaeological Approaches to Investigating Holocaust Landscapes’, Inaugural Professorial Lecture and Holocaust Memorial Day Event, Staffordshire University, UK, January 2018.
  • Session organiser for “Holocaust Archaeologies” at the European Association of Archaeologists Conference, Maastrict, October 2017
  • ‘Curating the Holocaust’ (with Michael Branthwaite), European Association of Archaeologists Conference, Maastrict, October 2017
  • “I came there, I was with my mother..”: The Presence and Absence of Children in Holocaust-Era Material Culture. World Archaeological Conference, Kyoto 2016.
  • “Finding Treblinka”, The Wiener Library, July 2016.
  • ‘Harry was here…Graffiti archaeology on the island of Alderney’, European Association of Archaeology Conference, Glasgow, September 2015.
  • ‘No more life…Confinement, Oppression and resistance at Treblinka extermination and labour camps’, European Association of Archaeology Conference, Glasgow, September 2015.
  • ‘Unearthing Treblinka? Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps. Paper presented at the CHAT Dark Modernities conference, Pilsen, Czech Republic. November 2014.
  • ‘Mapping Nazi Terror: Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps. Paper presented at the Archaeology of Violence: Archaeology of War, Archaeology of Mass Violence Conference, France. October 2014.
  • ‘Badania archeologiczne w Obozie Zagłady i Karnym Obozie Pracy w Treblince’ (Archaeological Surveys in the Extermination and Labour Camps in Treblinka), II Konferencja Naukowa „Treblinka – Historia i Pamięć, Treblinka, Poland, September 2014.
  • ‘Learning from the Present to Understand the Past: Forensic and Archaeological Approaches to Sites of the Holocaust’. Paper presented at the Killing Sites Conference hosted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Krakow. Poland, January 2014.
  • Mapping the Unseen: Recording and Re-presenting Landscapes of the Holocaust’. Paper presented at the Competing Memories Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 2013.
  • ‘Staro Sajmiste: An Archaeological Assessment’. Paper presented at the 54th October Salon, Belgrade, Serbia, October 2013.
  • ‘Addressing Archaeological Ethics: The Value of Non-invasive Approaches to Landscapes of the Holocaust’. Paper presented at the European Association of Archaeologists Conference, Pilsen, Czech Republic, October 2013.
  • ‘Mapping Adolf Island: Archaeological Approaches to the Occupation Landscape on Alderney’. Paper presented at the European Association of Archaeologists Conference, Pilsen, Czech Republic, October 2013.
  • ‘Mapping the unseen: Archaeological Approaches to the Landscapes of the Holocaust’. Paper presented at the Society of Cartographers’ Conference, Staffordshire University September 2013.
  • ‘DVI – 101’ training in an undergraduate and postgraduate context. Paper presented at the 2nd Annual Forum for Disaster Victim Identification, Royal College of Pathologists, London. 12th March 2013. Joint paper presented with Cassella, J. and Summers, R.
  • ‘Landscapes of Memory’, Paper presented for Holocaust Memorial Day at Staffordshire University, 28th January 2013.
  • ‘Examining the Imprints of Atrocity: Archaeological and Semiotic Approaches to Material Traces of Conflict’. Paper presented at Terrorscapes: Transnational Memory of Totalitarian Rule, Terror and Mass Violence in Europe, NIAS Workshop, 23 January 2013
  • ‘Forensic Archaeology’. Paper presented at Living Death Camp and Forensic Aesthetics: Where subjugated knowledge is, sociality occurs, Public Working Meeting, Centre for Cultural Decontamination, Bircaninova 21, Belgrade, 11th April 2012.
  • ‘Mapping the Subterranean’, Invited lecture at Goldsmiths University, London, 28th February 2012.
  • ‘Landscapes of memory: recording the archaeological remains of the Holocaust’, Paper presented at Beyond Camps and Forced Labour: Current International Research on Survivors of Nazi Persecution, Fourth International Multidisciplinary Conference at the Imperial War Museum, London, 4-6 January 2012.
  • ‘Archaeological approaches to the landscape of the former extermination camp at Treblinka, Poland’, Paper presented at the International Holocaust Task Force International Conference on the Holocaust and Other Genocides: The Uses, Abuses and Misuses of the Holocaust Paradigm, The Peace Palace in The Hague, 27th and 29th November 2011.
  • Sturdy Colls, C. 2011. ‘Ocena archeologiczna terenu bylego Obozu Zaglady w Treblince’, Paper presented at Co wiemy o Treblince? Stan Badan i konferencja naukowa Muzeum Walki i Meczensta W Treblince – Oddzial Muzeum Regionalnego w Siedlcach.
  • ‘I have buried this under the ashes…’: Archaeological Approaches to Holocaust Landscapes’, Fields of Conflict Conference, Osnabruck, Germany, April 2011.
  • ‘The Past is History?: The Archaeology of Occupation and Persecution’, Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, Austin, Texas, January 2011.
  • ‘Alderney: The Archaeology of Occupation and Persecution’, Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) Conference, Bristol, United Kingdom, October 2010.
  • Terrorscapes. Transnational Memory of Totalitarian Terror and Genocide in Post-war Europe, Workshop at Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Wassenaar 23rd January 2013.
  • Terrorscapes. Transnational Memory of Totalitarian Terror and Genocide in Post-war Europe, Workshop at Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Wassenaar 29 November 2011.

The Heritage of the Atlantic Wall: Seeking a common European response, Workshop, University of Cambridge, 3-5 August 2011