Dr Sabine Hanke

Department of History

Research student (awarded)


Thesis title: National identity and cultural difference in the British and German circus, 1920-1945.




Thesis abstract:

This project examines the ways in which performers and directors involved in the British and German circus industry created international worlds for their audiences between 1920 and 1945.

It investigates the paradox that while these worlds often appeared global and imperial, their significance was often national and local.

The thesis uses a variety of written and visual sources and looks at the circus through a transnational lens. 

Broader research interests:

  • Popular culture studies
  • Human-animal studies
  • Postcolonial theory
  • PhD History, University of Sheffield, 2016 - 2021
  • MA History, Dresden University of Technology, 2016
  • BA History, Political Science and Sociology, Dresden University of Technology, 2013


  • PhD scholarship: University of Sheffield Faculty of Arts & Humanities Doctoral Academy Scholarship
Teaching activities

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant: 

  • HST112 Paths from Antiquity to Modernity (2017/18)
  • HST117 The Making of the Twentieth Century (2018)
  • HST119 The Transformation of Britain, 1800 to the present (2019)
Professional activities and memberships

2012-2014 Curator for the permanent exhibition on Salman Schocken, State Museum of Archeology Chemnitz (together with Tomke Hinrichs) 

Public engagement:

Lead organiser of international conference Circus and Beyond held in May 2018 at the University of Sheffield, including workshops with local schools in Sheffield

Publications and conferences

Conference and seminar papers:

  • ‘The Wild West in Saxony: Dresden’s Sarrasani Circus between Empire and Cold War’, September 2017 at ENIUGH Congress, Budapest 
  • ‘The Fashioning of American Indians in Local Settings. A Postcolonial Perspective on the German and British Circus, 1900-1945’,  Colonial/Postcolonial New Researcher’s Workshop, December 2017 at IHR, London
  • ‘Staging American Indians in Local Settings – New Approaches in Transnational History’, January 2018 at Transnational History Workshop, OSU, Columbus
  • ‘Exoticising the Foreign. Making Imperial Identities in the German and British Circus, 1912-45’, June 2018 at Circus Histories and Theories Conference, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • ‘Circus and the making of a global popular culture in Germany and Britain, c. 1920-45’, May 2019 at Postgraduate Research Colloquium, University of Sheffield

Book chapters:

  • Salman Schocken', in Sabine Wolfram (Ed.), Archäologie eines Kaufhauses. Konzern, Bauherr, Architekt. Das Buch zur Dauerausstellung [Archeology of a Department Store. Corporation, Builder, Architect. The Book for the Permanent Exhibition] (Berlin: Kunstbibliothek, 2016)