University of Nevada, Reno

Faculty and StaffSandra Ott

Dr. Sandra Ott


1979 D.Phil., Social Anthropology, University of Oxford.


Research Interests

I am working on a book project, Crimes and Punishments: Collaborators, the Courts and Purge Justice in the Pyrenean Borderlands, 1944-1953, which focuses on the trials of suspected collaborators in the court of justice in Pau, France. The book takes an ethnographic approach to the trials and other period documents by reconstructing relationships formed by Basque and French citizens with the Germans in their midst and then explores the ways in which the post-liberation authorities evaluated those relationships and explored the motives underlying them during the period of pre-trial discovery, the trials themselves, the process of appeal and applications for amnesty that so often followed. Interdisciplinary in approach, the book project uses anthropological and sociological theories to expand our understanding of the ambiguities, complexities and opportunism that frequently characterized Franco-German and Franco-French relations during the occupation.




I teach two capstone courses: Basque Culture and War, Occupation and Memory, 1914-1945.


Selected Publications


2009a  “Duplicity, Indulgence and Ambiguity in Franco-German Relations, 1940-1946, History and Anthropology, (March) Vol. 28, No. 1, London: Routledge.


2009b  “Duplicity, Indulgence and Ambiguity in Franco-German Relations, 1940-1946,” History and Anthropology, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 57-97.


2009c  “Gifts, Ambiguity, and Questionable Justice: The Trial of a Vichy Police Commissioner,” The Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, November (Vol. 36), pp. 265-283.


2008a War, Judgment, and Memory in the Basque Borderlands, 1914-1945. Reno: University of Nevada Press, Basque Series.


2008b “Denunciation, Clemency and Conflict Resolution in the Basque Country (1939-1944)”, Journal of European Studies, London: Sage Publications, pp. 253-276.


2008c “The Informer, the Lover, and the Gift-Giver: Female Collaborators in Pau (1940-1946),” in French History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 94-114.


2007 “Gift- Giving and the Management of Justice: Borderland Basques under German Occupation (1942-1944) and during the Liberation,” in The Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, October (Vol.34), pp. 266-281. Winner of the Millstone Prize in French History in 2006.


2006a  “Good Tongues, Bad Tongues: Denunciation, Rumour and Revenge in the Basque Country (1940–1945),” History and Anthropology (March), Paul Sant Cassia (ed.) (London: Taylor & Francis).


2006b “Good Tongues, Bad Tongues: Denunciation, Rumour and Revenge in the Basque Country (1940-1945)”, History and Anthropology, (March) Vol. 17, No. 1, Paul Sant Cassia (ed.), London: Taylor & Francis, pp.57-72.

2005a “Rain on Sunday” & “A dead man has no birthdays” (ethnographic poetry), Anthropology and Humanism (University of California Press).

2005b “Remembering the Resistance in Popular Theatre,” in Memory and World War II: An Ethnographic Approach, Francesca Cappelletto (ed.) (Oxford: Berg).

2005c “The Old Religion and the Notion of la Montagne,” in Religion et montagne, vol. 2 (Paris: Sorbonne).


Recent awards:



National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend Scholar, awarded for archival research in France (the departmental archives of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in Pau and the National Archives in Paris). Research project: The Vicissitudes of Purge Justice: An Ethnographic Approach to the Trials of Collaborators, 1944-1946.


Winner of the Millstone Prize in French History.


Current research project:


I continue to do research in French archives on suspected collaborators during the German Occupation and am writing about Franco-Basque-Spanish-German relations during the 1930s and 1940s, with a special interest in espionage and counter-espionage in the Basque borderlands.

Full curriculum vitae



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