Dr James Sunderland

Research Fellow


Dr James Sunderland is a Research Fellow at the Woolf Institute working on the 'How to continue talking' project. He joined the Institute in June 2024. His work aims to explore how interfaith communities can continue meaningful and respectful dialogue and to explore connections and encounters during times of extreme distress, such as after the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October 2023 and the war in Gaza.

Prior to joining the Woolf Institute, James completed his DPhil in history at Merton College, University of Oxford, and his undergraduate and master's degrees in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Languages (SOAS) in London. His doctoral thesis focussed on (often violent) interactions between the Jewish Yishuv (community) and the British during the period of the British Mandate for Palestine (1917-1948). He also examined continued interactions between the Yishuv and Palestinian Arab community during the latter stages of the Mandate when clear Nationalist camps were crystalising and interaction became more difficult.

James has also previously engaged in teaching for the University of Oxford and for the University of Georgia on a range of topics including Modern Middle Eastern history and politics, the Israel-Palestine conflict, religion, society and politics in Victorian England, and IR approaches to terrorism and insurgencies. He also lectured at Brunel University in 2023, delivering classes on the Arab-Israeli conflict. As well as delivering university lectures and classes, James also has experience teaching children between the ages of 8-16 on topics related to Judaism and Jewish history.

As well as publishing academically, James is committed to furthering knowledge of the Middle East, and Israel-Palestine in particular, in the public sphere and fostering meaningful and respectful conversations about culture, society, politics, history, religion and conflict relating to the region. To this end, he has published a range of essays and articles in various public facing publications.

Selected Publications

Book chapter entitled Whispers of Lives: Jewish Women and Sex Work in Mandatory Palestine 1918-1948, in 'Sex Work and Jewish History,' ed. Stefanie Fischer, Elisabeth Janik-Freis, Daniel Lee, and Paola Zichi [forthcoming 2024] 

Essay for New Lines Magazine on how violence in Palestine in the 1940s proved a boon for British Fascists, entitled The Postwar Revival of British Fascism (31 May 2024)

Essay for New Lines Magazine on American popular support for a Jewish state in Palestine in the 1940s, entitled How Broadway Helped the Zionist Revolt Against Britain (2 February 2024)

News article for The Conversation on the situation in Israel, entitled Israel is a Powder Keg Waiting to Blow (4 May 2023)

News article for The Conversation on the 2022 Israeli elections and the Likud party, entitled Israel Election: What History Can Tell Us About the Prospects for Stable Government Under Bibi Netanyahu (9 November 2022)

Blog article for History News Network, entitled Jerusalem: A Divided and Invented City (23 May 2021)

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