Katy Jackson

Staffing discomfort: Care and emotion in museum work with narratives of conflict-related sexual violence

Overview of PhD

This research project examines museum work with narratives of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) through the conceptual lens of ‘care-ful museology’ (Nuala Morse, 2020).

Museum visitors, staff and volunteers may all experience emotional reactions to histories of human atrocity, including CRSV, from feelings of sadness, discomfort, denial, disassociation, hopelessness and anger, to empowerment, and a sense of responsibility to generate change.

This project asks what about CRSV narratives can cause these varying responses, such as its intimate and gendered nature, how it may be perceived as an inevitability in conflict, and how it is memorialised. In some cases, visitors and staff may encounter CRSV narratives unexpectedly or non-consensually, such as a spontaneous public protest in the museum.

It therefore further examines how museum staff support visitors encountering narratives of CRSV, whilst also caring for their own personal wellbeing.

I apply a mixed-methods approach that unpacks the institutional structures and tools, and personal approaches, that currently help (or hinder) museum staff working with this subject. As a practice-based PhD, I embed participation at the core of my methodology, working with and for museum staff to develop a tangible learning outcome, which can be applied to museum practice.


I have a BA in History from the University of Reading and an MA in War, Culture and History from the University of Manchester.

I have worked in a variety of museums and cultural organisations over the past 16 years including The Wiener Holocaust Library, National Army Museum and the British Library.

I specialise in developing participatory programmes connecting audiences with histories of conflict.

I am undertaking my PhD research part-time.