Dr Trisha Oakley Kessler

Research Associate


Trisha's research explores the Irish economy through a socio-cultural lens to understand everyday life, racism, nationalism and gender in Irish history. Her doctoral thesis from University College Dublin explored political and economic change in 1930s Ireland through the prism of three factories established in provincial Ireland by Jewish refugees, which helped to build a new ladies' hat industry. How these factories came into existence, the economic networks that enabled them to arrive, the challenges they faced entering the Irish economy and their political and economic impact offer a prism to explore identity, modernity, belonging and industrial change. She is interested in the workings and the shifting meanings of factories in twentieth-century Irish provincial life.

Her research interests also focus on the Irish-Jewish community and Irish-Jewish encounters in Ireland and the diaspora. Working with ego-documents, including memoirs, private correspondence and oral histories she is working on a social-cultural history of Jews in the Irish economy. Her current research also focuses on a collection of business correspondence between the Böhm family and their global trade networks following the Aryanisation and Expropriation of the Brüder Böhm hat factories in Vienna and Czechoslovakia. It explores how the Böhm owners navigated their global business networks to begin business renewal and find refuge and how these trade networks reacted to a new economic and social reality.

Trisha has taught a Special Subject Paper, 'An alternative history of Ireland: religious minorities and identity in the 26 counties, 1900-1959' (Paper Coordinator, Professor Eugenio Biagini) at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. She supervises modern Irish history and British political history. She is a Co-Convenor of the Cambridge Modern Irish History Seminar. She is currently a Teaching Research Fellow at the Herzog Centre, Trinity College Dublin (2022).

Trisha is an alumna of the Woolf Institute, having studied for a Master's Degree in Jewish-Christian Relations. For several years, Trisha worked at the Institute, creating their first public education programmes across Britain, particularly with the Metropolitan Police Service and the NHS.

Trisha is a member of HEBE research network. HEBE is committed to considering the ways that the history of emotions can help us to better understand the built environment. It aims to facilitate inclusive cross-sectoral discussions between and across disciplines and practice. In doing so, researchers will reflect on the methodological opportunities and challenges of using emotional frameworks in the study of the built environment over the next five years. The HEBE network will run a series of seminars and events exploring these topics.

Academic Publications

'Rethinking Irish Protectionism: Jewish Refugee Factories and the Pursuit of an Irish-Ireland for Industry', in Irish Questions and Jewish Questions: Crossovers in Culture, edited by Aidan Beatty and Dan O'Brien (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2018). 

'In Search of Jewish Footprints in the West of Ireland' in Journal of Jewish History and Culture 19, no.2, 2018. 

'Jews as the 'Economic Other': Negotiating Modernity, Identity and Industrial Change in the Irish Free State Commission on Vocational Organisation, 1939-44' in Reimaging the Jews of Ireland: Historiography, Identity and Representation, edited by Natalie Wynn and Zuleika Rodgers (Peter Lang, forthcoming).

'Jews as a threat to Irish society? Economic Antisemitism and the stereotype of the ‘Economic Jew,' in The Limerick Boycott in Context, eds. Seán W. Gannon and Natalie Wynn (Berlin: Peter Lang, forthcoming).

'Letters of loss and urgency: Jewish refugee industrialists, trade networks and pathways of rescue,' Journal of Jewish Culture and History (forthcoming).

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