Zaagsma, Gerben

Core areas

My two main research and teaching interests are Jewish History/Yiddish Studies and digital humanities/digital history. My work in the field of modern Jewish history has so far focused mostly on Jewish political practices, Jewish migration, and the nexus between them. My Ph.D. thesis on Jewish volunteers who fought in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War will be published with Bloomsbury Academic in 2014-2015. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies of University College London I worked on a research project comparing Jewish migrant responses to anti-Semitism in Paris and London in the late 1930s. Apart from these research projects I am also the editor of the internet portal Yiddish Sources and am increasingly interested in the question of how the internet enables the preservation, representation and fostering of transnational minority cultures and the politics of online heritage.

In addition to my work in Jewish social and political history, I am particularly interested in the digital humanities and the methodological implications of using new technologies in historical research and writing. Within this context I worked as the lead developer of the website at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) and organised a conference on digital history. I also guest-edited a special issue of the BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review ( on digital history that was published in december 2013.

Project: Wartime Yiddish diaries

I currently work in the project The Diaries of Anne Frank. Research – Translations – Critical Edition. This project is a collaboration between the Lichtenberg Kolleg and the Fritz Bauer Institute in Frankfurt. It involves a new historical-critical edition of the diaries in Dutch, English and German as well as an accompanying multi-author research monograph focusing on contextualisation and reception. I am responsible for the annotations of the new edition as well as involved in planning the monograph for which I will contribute a chapter on wartime Yiddish diaries.

Selected Publications

  • Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War (Bloomsbury Academic; London, forthcoming).
  • “On Digital History”, BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review 128/4 (2013) 3-29.
  • “Die Botwin Kompagnie” in: Dan Diner ed., Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur (Stuttgart; J.B. Metzler Verlag, 2011) 392-397.
  • “Public History oltre lo Stato: Presentare il passato Yiddish nell’Europa contemporanea” [Public history beyond the State: Presenting the Yiddish Past in Contemporary Europe], Memoria e Ricerca: Rivista di storia contemporanea 37 (2011) 129-142.
  • “The Local and the International — Jewish Communists in Paris between the Wars”, Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook 8 (2009) 345-363.