Laura Petersen

  • Laura Petersen

    PhD candidate

Laura Petersen is a PhD Candidate at the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at Melbourne Law School. Her research is cross-disciplinary, combining approaches to jurisprudence and legal theory with literature and visual and public art.

Laura’s PhD project joins together her interests in law, German studies and aesthetics. She speaks fluent German and her thesis focuses on legal and artistic practices of restitution and justice in post-Holocaust Germany.

Recently Laura was successful in leading her team’s application for a ‘U21 Graduate Collaborative Research Award’, an international collaborative grant. This funding supports a cross-disciplinary research project into themes of art, conflict and justice with colleagues from the Universities of Amsterdam, Connecticut and Queensland.

Laura returned to The University of Melbourne to undertake her PhD after completing a MA at the Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin. Her thesis (in German) considered the role of metafictional narratives in Holocaust memory. She studied her LLB (1st Hons)/BA at The University of Melbourne and is an admitted lawyer in Australia.

Thesis Title

Forms of restitution after the Holocaust: encounters between art and law

Thesis Summary

My PhD research is in the area of legal aesthetics and set in Germany after the Holocaust. I read examples from legal and literary writing, and public and visual art as objects which can help us understand the dynamics of attempting Wiedergutmachung / ‘restitution’ in Germany. I look at the way writers and artists take on responsibilities regarding the aftermath of the Holocaust, articulating the modes of practice and reception undertaken by the texts. My thesis argues that the sites of taking responsibility and undertaking attempts at restitution after the Holocaust are fragmented, tentative and unresolved, crossing disciplinary, generational and territorial borders


  • Art and Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Legal Aesthetics
  • Legal Theory