Fotograaf: Onbekend

mw. prof. dr. S. (Selma) Leydesdorff

Oral history en cultuur
  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Bezoekadres
    Kloveniersburgwal 48  Amsterdam
  • Postadres:
    Kloveniersburgwal  48
    1012 CX  Amsterdam

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Curriculum Selma Leydesdorff

About Selma Leydesdorff

Selma Leydesdorff is professor of oral history and culture. Her career is part of the transformation of oral history from mostly a fact-finding method-adding to and criticizing traditional historical narratives-to research on the ways memory is framed and modified over time. It has always been influenced by women's history. She moved from gender studies to her present position. She promoted oral history by extensive teaching and with the help of the National research School of Cultural History she formalized the national network in oral history. At the moment she promotes interconnectivity between the many existing audio-visual websites while supporting major grantapplications.

In 1987, her  dissertation on the Jewish poor of Amsterdam, 1900-1940 (Amsterdam 1987, Wayne State UP 1994; Suhrkamp, 1994) introduced a critical revision of the then-dominant historiography of the modernization and assimilation of poor Jews. Fascinated by trauma stories and the life story approach, and helping to set up the expanding international oral history network, she published Water and Memory on the memories of the Netherlands floods of 1953.

Publishing books and editing volumes that have shaped oral history the main thread running through her academic career. As editor since 2001 she is co-responsible for the publication of many volumes and more are in preparation. Themes are totalitarianism, subjectivity, trauma, the transmission of stories. At this moment she is co-editing a volume on 'Evidence'in historical narratives. She was fellow at the Remarque Center in New York, and During the academic year 2010-2011 she was asked to collaborate the CNRS/NYU memory project, rethinking  'the representation of war' in collaboration with the September 11 Museum (New York) and with a grant of the Memorial de Caen (France).

Yearly she teaches  a phd-course on oral history at the Dutch National Research School of Cultural History (Huizinga) that is being attended by doctoral students and post-docs from many countries.

The last ten years she interviewed on life in concentration camps and recorded interviews with survivors of Auschwitz and Mauthausen in international projects.

In 2002, she started a project with survivors of Srebrenica, which brought a major international attention as an oral historianof trauma. The book detailing the Srebrenica story was published first in Dutch, then in Bosnian, and an English translation. The american edition got major public attention and the book appeared in paperback in 2015. She lectured widely in the US and participated in several publication projects. Her article on Bosnia in the volume Oral History on the Edge.(Oxford University Press 2014, ed S. Sloane, M. Cave) is part of a collection that got the price of the American Oral History Society 2015

Since 2008, she has recorded life stories around the trial of John Demjanjuk in Munich, including survivors of Sobibor and co-plaintiffs in the trial. The results have been  published as

As a result of her work she is   public speaker on themes as 'the holocaust', 'Jewish history' and 'trauma and memory'. She will give the opening keynote in april 2016 at the  European Society for Trauma and Dissociation

She is  writing  a biography of Aleksandr (Sasha) Pechersky, the leader of the uprising of Sobibor who became after his return to his hometown Rostov on Don the victim of the Stalinist antisemitic purges. She has been using material from archives all over the world and she traveled to  people who knew about his history. At the moment the research is in collaboration with Foundation Sobibor, and the work  is sponsered by the Rabbi Israel Miller Fund of the Jewish Claims Conference. There have been many more sponsors..

She is member of the advisory board of Stumbling Rocks, Zeeland (Struikelstenen, Zeeland)

See the link below for the curriculum vitae and publications of prof. dr. Selma Leydesdorff


  • S. Leydesdorff (2014). When all is lost: Metanarrative in the Oral History of Hanifa, Survivor of Srebrenica. In M. Cave & S.M. Sloan (Eds.), Listening on the edge: oral history in the aftermath of crisis (Oxford oral history series) (pp. 17-32). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • S. Leydesdorff (2014). Levensverhalen vastgelegd door een historicus. In R.A. Jongedijk (Ed.), Levensverhalen en psychotrauma: narratieve exposure therapie in theorie en praktijk (Arq-boekenreeks) (pp. 77-90). Amsterdam: Boom.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2013). Oral history, trauma and September 11, comparative oral history. In P. Pierre (Ed.), September 11th-12th: the individual and the State faced with terrorism (pp. 141-159). Paris: Hermann.
  • S. Leydesdorff (2013). The State within the State: An artisan Remembers his Identity in Mauthausen. In R. Fritz, G. Botz & e.a. (Eds.), Mauthausen, Uberleben und Erinneren. Wien: Böhlau.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2012). Why compensation is a mixed blessing. In H.G. van der Wilt, J. Vervliet, G.K. Sluiter & J.T.M. Houwink ten Cate (Eds.), The Genocide Convention: the legacy of 60 years (pp. 105-114). Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2011). Surviving the Bosnian genocide: the women of Srebrenica speak. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2010). How shall we remember Srebrenica? Will the language of law structure our memory? In Y. Gutman, A.D. Brown & A. Sodaro (Eds.), Memory and the future: transnational politics, ethics and society (Palgrave Macmillan memory studies) (pp. 121-137). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • S. Leydesdorff (2010). [Review of the book Laten we hun lied verder zingen: de heropbouw van de joodse gemeenschap in Antwerpen na de Tweede Wereldoorlog (1944-1960)]. Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 125/4.[go to publisher's site]
  • S. Leydesdorff (2010). [Review of the book Beyond Anne Frank: hidden children and postwar families in Holland]. Memory Studies, 3(4), 429-431.



  • S. Leydesdorff (2008). Memory and the history of genocide: stories of the women of Srebrenica. Cahier International sur le Témoignage Audiovisuel, 14, 75-86.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2006). 'The Strength to Survive: an Anthroplogy of Survival'. Driemaandelijks tijdschrift van de Auschwitz Stichting, 12.
  • S. Leydesdorff (2006). Zvanični javni jezik i utišani glasovi žena iz Srebrenice. Ljudska Prava, 7 (3-4), 109-114.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2012). Een interview over Sobibor in Warschau: de verwarring an angst van Toivi. Ex Tempore, 31 (3), 166-171.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2011). Looking back 23 years later: a new interview, a new perspective. In H. Berger, M. Dejnaga, R. Fritz & A. Prenninger (Eds.), Politische Gewalt und Machtsausubung im 20. Jahrhundert: Zeitgeschichte, Zeitgeschehen und Kontroversen: Festschrift für Gerhard Botz (pp. 489-500). Wien: Böhlau.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2009). Die Traumata von Srebrenica: vom Ringen überlebender Frauen um Erinnerung und Zukunft. In S. Mattl, G. Botz, S. Karner & H. Konrad (Eds.), Krieg, Erinnerung, Geschichtswissenschaft (Veröffentlichungen des Clusters Geschichte der Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft, 1) (pp. 351-373). Wien: Böhlau.
  • S. Leydesdorff (2009). Prazninu ostavit iza nas: istorija žene Srebrenice. Sarajevo: Rabic.
  • S. Leydesdorff (2009). When communities fell apart and neighbors became enemies: stories of bewilderment in Srebrenica. In N. Adler, S. Leydesdorff, M. Chamberlain & L. Neyzi (Eds.), Memories of mass repression: narrating life stories in the aftermath of atrocity (pp. 21-39). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
  • N. Adler, S. Leydesdorff, M. Chamberlain & L. Neyzi (2009). Introduction. In N. Adler, S. Leydesdorff, M. Chamberlain & L. Neyzi (Eds.), Memories of mass repression: narrating life stories in the aftermath of atrocity (pp. ix-xxi). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2008). De leegte achter ons laten: een geschiedenis van de vrouwen van Srebrenica. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2007). Oral histories and their challenge to collective memory: the case of Srebrenica, in Bios. Bios : Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung und oral history, 2007, 113-120.
  • S. Leydesdorff (2007). Stories from no land: the women of Srebrenica speak out. Human Rights Review, 8 (3), 187-198. doi: 10.1007/s12142-007-0005-7[go to publisher's site]
  • S. Leydesdorff (2007). Dutch Jewish Women, Integration and Modernity. In J. Frishman & H. Berg (Eds.), Dutch Jewry in a Cultural Maelstrom (pp. 183-195).


  • S. Leydesdorff (2006). 'El Estado dentro del Estado, Un artesano recuerda su identidad en Mauthausen'. In V. Carnovale, F. Lorenz & e.a. (Eds.), Historia Memoria y Fuentes Oral (pp. 111-129). Buenos Aires: Memoria Abierta.
  • S. Leydesdorff & E. Tonkin (2006). 'The Volatility of the Oral: Aldine Transaction Introduction of J. Vansina'. In Oral Tradition, A Study in Historical Methodology (pp. XI-XVII). New Brunswick / Londen: Aldine Transaction.


  • S. Leydesdorff (2006). 'Modern Jewish Women in the Netherlands, Carrie van Bruggen, Rosa Manus, Roosje Vos, Clara Asscher Pinkhof'. In P.E. Hyman & D. Ofer (Eds.), Jewish Women, A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
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