Professor Sara Jones

Photograph of Dr Sara Jones

Department of Modern Languages
Professor of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Contact details

Department of Modern Languages
School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Sara Jones is Professor in the Department of Modern Languages. Her current research analyses the political, social and cultural processes of remembering state socialist dictatorship.


  • PhD in German 2009
  • MA by Research (German) 2005
  • BA in Modern Languages (French and German) 2003
  • PCAP (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice) 2013


Sara Jones completed her BA in Modern Languages (French and German) at the University of Bristol in 2003 and her MA and PhD in the Department of German at the University of Nottingham (2004-2008). After a year of teaching in the Department of European Studies at the University of Bath (2008-2009), she was awarded a 3-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, the first two of which were held at the University of Bristol (2009-2011). She joined the University of Birmingham in September 2011 as a Birmingham Fellow, and was appointed cross-College to the Institute for German Studies (POLSIS) and the Department of Modern Languages. Since September 2018, she has held the post of Professor in the Department of Modern Languages.


Professor Jones currently teaches on Core modules in German language and literature in Year 1 and Year 4. She also contributes to the MA module ‘World Literatures Compared.’ In previous years, she has contributed to Approaches to European Cultures (Year 1), Texts in Context (Year 1), Contemporary Germany (Year 1), Holocaust and Genocide: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (MA) and was convenor for From the Stasi to the Sandmännchen: Remembering the GDR in the United Germany (Final Year). She also supervises undergraduate Independent Study Projects.

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Jones is always happy to hear from potential postgraduate students looking to work in the fields of the social and cultural history of state socialism, post-socialist memory practices, and interdisciplinary approaches to testimony and memory. She is especially interested in projects that take a transnational, comparative and cross-media approach.

Professor Jones currently supervises nine doctoral research projects:

Jonathan Conde (with Klaus Richter): An examination of Lithuanian nationalism

Vanessa Favali (with Isabel Wollaston): Investigating the use of dark tourist sites in UK secondary school Holocaust education

Sarra Ghersallah (with Anissa Daoudi): Constructing Arab Women’s Memory of Imprisonment through Testimony

George Gibson (with Corey Ross): Letters without signatures: An analysis of the anonymous letters written by citizens of the German Democratic Republic to the BBC German Service circa the construction of the Berlin Wall, 1960-1962

Tina Hofman (AHRC, with Charlotte Galpin): Representing Eastern Europe: Diversity, Inclusion and (De)coloniality in the UK Creative Economies

Johanna Kreft (AHRC, with Emanuelle Rodrigues Dos Santos and Jenny Wuestenberg (Nottingham Trent)): Beyond "colonial amnesia": Decolonising German Institutional Memory through Transformative Social Activism

Danielle Krikorian (with Deniz Soezen and Anissa Daoudi: Women Artists and Aesthetics in times of War (A Story of the other in Lebanon)

Mia Parkes (AHRC, with Mónica Jato and Alison Ribeiro de Menezes (Warwick)): Reconceptualising the Female Political Prisoner: 100 Years of Women's Imprisonment

Emily Stokes (Wolfson, with Camilla Smith): Watching the Boys: Paranoia, Stasi Surveillance, and Queer Visual Cultures in the German Democratic Republic, 1979-1990

Completed PhD Supervisions

Ilaria Bernardi (AHRC, with Charlotte Galpin): Visiting the United States and Bringing It Back Home: the US Exchange Programs with Germany and Italy, 1950-1965. Completed in 2022

Matthew Hines (Wolfson Foundation, with Ute Hirsekorn (Nottingham) and Mónica Jato): Writing a New Society: ‘Aufbau’ in East German Literature 1945-1955. Completed in 2023

Maren Rohe (DAAD, with Julian Pänke): Constructing the Other: Polish and Russian Perceptions of Germany between Media Influence and Individuality. Completed in 2019

Alexander Brown (AHRC, with Joanne Sayner): Rethinking the GDR Opposition: Reform, Resistance and Revolution in the Other Germany. Completed in 2019

Marlene Schrijnders (AHRC, with Joanne Sayner): From London to Leipzig and Back: Post-Punk, Endzeit and Ostgoth. Completed in 2019

David Zell (AHRC, with Joanne Sayner): Major Cultural Commemorations and the Construction of Cultural and Political Identity in the GDR, 1967-1987. Completed in 2018

Josefin Graef (DAAD, with Isabelle Hertner): The Dynamics of Narrating Criminal Violence: The National Socialist Underground and the (Re-) Negotiation of Germanness. Completed in 2016

Leila Mukhida (DAAD, with Elystan Griffiths): Politics and the Moving Image: Contemporary German and Austrian Cinema Through the Lens of Benjamin, Kracauer and Kluge. Completed in 2015

She has also supervised MA Dissertations in the MA Holocaust and Genocide, on representations of the GDR opposition in state-mandated memory, GDR samizdat publications, Romanian and Bulgarian immigration to the UK and Germany, and women’s prison writing in Franco’s Spain.

She is always happy to hear from potential postgraduate students looking to work in her areas of expertise.

Find out more - our PhD German Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Sara Jones’s doctoral research analysed literary production in the GDR and considered the complex and ambiguous position of socialist writers from across the spectrum of conformity and dissent. The thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach to the topic, combining extensive archival research with literary analysis of autobiographical texts and fiction. This work was published in 2011 as a monograph in de Gruyter’s Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies series with the title: Complicity, Censorship and Criticism: Negotiating Space in the GDR Literary Sphere.

Professor Jones’s second major project, "Reconstructing the Stasi: Remembering Secret Police Repression in the United Germany", was funded by the Leverhulme Trust (2009-2012). This included a series of journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers that consider the representation of the Stasi in different media forms (literature, film, autobiography and museums). The research culminated in a monograph in Palgrave Macmillan's Memory Studies series with the title: The Media of Testimony: Remembering the East German Stasi in the Berlin Republic (August 2014). Professor Jones’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach to the processes of remembering dictatorship, combining cultural, media and memory studies with sociology and political science

Building on the work of her second monograph, Professor Jones was Principal Investigator for the AHRC network “Culture and its Uses of Testimony”, which ran from July 2016-January 2019. The network brought together scholars from across the humanities and social sciences with non-academic practitioners to consider what role cultural forms of testimony (e.g., autobiographical writing, literature, art, film, documentary and museums) can play in processes of post-conflict reconciliation and justice. This included the co-production of a set of resources for secondary teachers using testimony in the classroom across the curriculum. The network led to a major AHRC-funded follow-on project “Testimony in Practice”, which ran from March 2019-February 2020. The project comprises: an innovative documentary theatre production, made in a collaboration with Catalan theatre company La Conquesta del Pol Sud and Romanian and German novelist Carmen-Francesca Banciu; an online testimonies campaign to collect the stories of Central and Eastern Europeans living in the UK; a co-operation with Central and Eastern European arts space, Centrala, to produce a sound-art installation based on the testimonies; and a series of workshops (youth artist, theatre practitioner, creative writing).

Professor Jones has just published her third monograph  Towards a Collaborative Memory: German Memory Work in a Transnational Context. The monograph explores how memories of dictatorship are negotiated across borders in political, cultural and social processes. It deploys concepts drawn from relational sociology and examines how these can inform our understanding of transnational co-operation. In the monograph, Professor Jones works with techniques drawn from Social Network Analysis (SNA) to track cross-border collaborations of German memory-political institutions and combines this quantitative research with qualitative analysis to assess the meanings given to such co-operations by the actors involved and the ways in which these activities are used to construct new narratives about the past. Through the empirical work she is refining the new theoretical concept of “collaborative memory”.

She was CI on the major AHRC-funded research project “Knowing the Secret Police: Secrecy and Knowledge in East German Society”. This project overturns the approach of existing research to ask not what the "all-powerful" Stasi knew about society, but what and how East Germans knew about the secret police. Professor Jones explored literary networks and representations, and will be co-authoring with Dr Tara Windsor and Dr Betiel Wasihun a monograph with the provisional title Revelation, Surveillance and Secrecy: Knowing the Stasi in the GDR Literary Sphere.

Professor Jones is currently PI on the AHRC-funded project 'Post-Socialist Britain: Memory, Representation and Political Identity amongst German, Polish and Ukrainian Immigrants in the UK (Feb 2021 - Jan 2024), working with Charlotte Galpin (Political Science, UoB) and Jenny Wuestenberg (History, Nottingham Trent). The project explores what happens to the connection between collective memory and political identity in the process of migration. Project partners include Birmingham-based Central and Eastern European arts organisation Centrala, as well as the Polish Expats Association, Polish Professionals in London, European's Welfare Association and British German Association. The project will result in a series of articles, a monograph, international conference, a photography workshop series, schools resources, policy briefings, and an exhibition and related community-engagement events.

Other activities

Professor Jones is Head of Postgraduate Research Studies in the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. She has previously been Deputy Head of Research and Impact Officer for the School (2018-2021) and Research Lead for the Department of Modern Languages (2020-2021). 

She is s General Editor (Forum Prize) for the journal Forum for Modern Language Studies and member of the editorial board of the Journal of Perpetrator Research.

Membership of Professional Organisations:

  • Association of German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland
  • Women in German Studies
  • Memory Studies Association


Highlight publications

Jones, S 2022, Towards a collaborative memory: German memory work in transnational context. Worlds of Memory, vol. 9, Berghahn Books.

Jones, S & Woods, R (eds) 2023, Palgrave Handbook of Testimony and Culture. 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan.

Jones, S 2014, The media of testimony: Remembering the East German Stasi in the Berlin Republic. Memory Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Jones, S 2011, Complicity, Censorship and Criticism: Negotiating Space in the GDR Literary Sphere. Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies, De Gruyter.

Jones, S 2019, 'Testimony through culture: towards a theoretical framework', Rethinking History, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 257-278.

Recent publications


Jones, S 2020, 'Memory relations: cross-border collaboration between mnemonic actors in Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, and the MENA region', Revue d'Etudes Comparatives Est-Ouest, vol. 51, no. 2-3, pp. 225-259.

Jones, S 2017, 'Mediated Immediacy: Constructing Authentic Testimony in Audiovisual Media', Rethinking History, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 135-153.

Jones, S 2015, '(Extra)ordinary Life: The Rhetoric of Representing the Socialist Everyday After Unification', German Politics and Society, vol. 33, no. 1/2, pp. 119-134.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Jones, S 2022, Zeugnis. in M Sabrow & A Saupe (eds), Handbuch Historische Authentizitaet. Wert der Vergangenheit, vol. 5, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, pp. 563-570. <>

Jones, S 2020, Towards a Collaborative Memory: Networks and Relationality in German Memory Cultures. in R Braun & B Schofield (eds), Transnational German Studies. Transnational Modern Languages, vol. 5, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, pp. 151-173.

Jones, S 2017, Cross-Border Collaboration and the Construction of Memory Narratives in Europe. in B Törnquist-Plewa & T Sindbæk Andersen (eds), The Twentieth Century in European Memory: Transcultural Mediation and Reception. European Studies, Brill, Leiden, pp. 27.

Jones, S 2017, Memory Competition or Memory Collaboration? Politics, Networks and Social Actors in Memories of Dictatorship. in C Kraenzle & M Mayr (eds), The Changing Place of Europe in Global Memory Cultures: Usable Pasts and Futures. Memory Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 63-86.

Jones, S 2015, Uneasy Heritage: Remembering Everyday Life in Post-Socialist Memorials and Museums. in M Robinson & H Silverman (eds), Encounters with Popular Pasts: Cultural Heritage and Popular Culture. Springer, New York, pp. 219-234.


Jones, S & Woods, R 2023, Introduction: Testimony in Culture and Cultures of Testimony. in S Jones & RW (eds), Palgrave Handbook of Testimony and Culture. 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-20.

Jones, S & Pine, E 2023, Testimonies of the Self and Others: Sara Jones and Emilie Pine in Dialogue. in S Jones & R Woods (eds), Palgrave Handbook of Testimony and Culture. 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 597-615.

Jones, S & Wolfgram, M 2023, The Cultural Contexts of Testimony: The WEIRDness of Global Cosmopolitan Norms. in S Jones & R Woods (eds), Palgrave Handbook of Testimony and Culture. 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 135-156.

Jones, S & Windsor, T 2022, Literature as Knowledge: Samizdat and Underground Revelation. in A Ní Chroidheáin & H Lähnemann (eds), 'Dangerous Creations': Papers from a Roundtable Discussion. Treasures of the Taylorian: Cultural Memory, vol. 3, Taylor Institution Library, Oxford, pp. 24-33.

Commissioned report

Jones, S, Centrala & Ceglarz, J 2021, In-between spaces: Inclusion and representation of Central and Eastern European (CEE) artists in the UK creative economy. Centrala Space. <>

Other contribution

Jones, S 2020, Using Testimony in the Classroom: Guidance for Teachers.. <>

Other report

Galpin, C, Jones, S, Kogut, N & Rohe, M 2023, Support for Displaced Ukrainians: The Role of History and Stereotypes. <>

View all publications in research portal


Post-socialist memory politics, particularly remembering East Germany; history and memory of the East German State Security Service (Stasi); transitional justice in Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on memorialisation in Germany and Romania, East German literary and cultural history.

Media experience