Institute News

Danielle Willard-Kyle Awarded 2018-2019 Center Graduate Research Fellowship

Danielle Willard-Kyle, a PhD candidate in History at Rutgers University, has been awarded the 2018-2019 Center Graduate Research Fellowship at the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research. Willard-Kyle will be in residence at the Center from mid-March to mid-April 2019 to conduct research for a chapter of her doctoral dissertation, “Living in Liminal Spaces: Refugees in Italian Displaced Persons Camps, 1945-1951.”

During her time at the Center, Willard-Kyle will conduct research with Visual History Archive testimonies of European and North African Jewish refugees who lived in Italian Displaced Persons (DP) camps during and after World War II in order to understand the “tension between past and present questioning of the roles of memory and nostalgia in describing one’s own experiences.” She is specifically interested in how individuals remember their time in Italian DP camps from the immediate post-camp period to the present, and plans on supplementing selected survivor testimonies with archival materials such as the Papers of the War Refugee Board and Jewish DP periodicals from the YIVO Institute in the hopes of investigating questions of postwar migration, community creation and individual agency in Italian DP camps.

Willard-Kyle hopes that her research will connect disparate strands of existing research on the experiences of Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe, North African Jews, and international aid workers. She plans on consulting the wealth of VHA testimonies by refugees and aid workers who spent time in Italian DP camps. Not only does Willard-Kyle’s project offer insight into how displaced populations “try to retain what they can of their pasts and create new futures,” but it illustrates how self-classification and the involvement of NGOs, state actors and humanitarian groups can both aid and hinder the creation of those new futures. Her linguistic proficiency in Yiddish, Italian and French will enable her to utilize a wide variety of testimonies and relate them to each other in her research.

Willard-Kyle earned her BA in History from Westmont College, an MA in History and Jewish Studies from the University of Toronto, and an MSt in Jewish Studies from Oxford University before coming to Rutgers. As a graduate student in the History Department specializing in Modern Europe, Willard-Kyle is interested in the intersection of postwar testimonies from European and North African Jewish refugees, and in the ways this research can connect to current events in immigration. She has given presentations on her research at multiple academic conferences and has received numerous awards and scholarships, including the 2017 Ben and Zelda Cohen Visiting Fellowship at the United States Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., a 2015 Mellon Summer Research Grant and the 2013-2014 Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Fellowship.

The Center Graduate Research Fellowship is awarded to an outstanding advanced-standing Ph.D. candidate from any discipline for dissertation research focused on testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive and other USC resources. The fellowship enables the recipient to spend one month in residence at the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research during the academic year and to deliver a public lecture about his or her research.