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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 offers 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 currently working on a social-cultural history of Jews in the Irish economy.

Trisha has taught on 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 on modern Irish history and British political history. She is a Co-Convenor of the Cambridge Modern Irish History Seminar.

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

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, Vol.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).

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