ProjectDigitale Erinnerung – From the Era of the Witness to Digital Remembrance: New Media, Holocaust Sites and Changing…

Basic data

Acronym:
Digitale Erinnerung
Title:
From the Era of the Witness to Digital Remembrance: New Media, Holocaust Sites and Changing Memory Practices / Project Thiemeyer
Duration:
01/03/2023 to 28/02/2026
Abstract / short description:
The core objective of the proposed project is to study the ongoing transformations of Holocaust
commemoration in the digital generation. Our leading questions are threefold: How do digital media
technologies generate new kinds of memory practice? How do such practices of digital
remembrance interact with more established memory practices that are anchored in places – such
as visits to concentration camps, museums and monuments and centralized national
commemorations? And how do these shifts engage with wider contexts of political authority and
solidarity? The focus of the project provides a much-needed analysis of how established and
emerging memory-practices juxtapose and entangle with one another, and whether these
entanglements will foster new questions regarding the forces that led to perpetration, greater
identification with the victims or perhaps greater distance and forgetting. It will also examine what
kinds of memories are best transmitted through digital media and how much confidence or
skepticism users exhibit towards the latter.
The project will conduct ethnographic observations of the use of digital devices at memorial sites and
museums (picture-taking and posting, the use of smartphone-conveyed information at sites, online
practices), investigate the strategies employed by site personnel to cope with the new developments
(in situ and online), analyze the representations of Holocaust sites and ceremonies on social media
and compare them to more established media-representations, and investigate the shift of
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commemorative activities from offline to online with special attention placed on the impact of this
shift on the performative role of online witnessing. At the same time, the project analyzes the digital
transformations of Holocaust remembrance beyond individual memorial sites and considers
emerging digital practices. Examples for these are AI-based dialogues with Holocaust survivors that
are enabled through the USC Shoa Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony project (Gamber 2021),
social media campaigns such as the much-hyped Eva’s Story, a filmic adaptation to Eva Heyman’s
diary that was available only on Instagram and attracted the public attention in Israel and worldwide
(Tirosh 2019; Henig and Ebbrecht-Hartmann 2020), or the growing incorporation of digital
technologies in the highly popular Zikaron Besalon (ZB), a new privatized counter memory practice
based on survivor testimony that shifts the space of collective commemoration from the public to the
private sphere (e.g. people’s living rooms) (Kook 2021).
To put this multi-layered research design into practice, the project investigates a series of physical
places such as memorials and museums of the Holocaust or the Nazi period in Germany and Israel,
where the team will collect qualitative and ethnographic data (through participant observation and
interviews on site). Simultaneously, the research team will engage in digital spaces constituted
through social media platforms, hashtags, ‘virtual memorials’ and participate in various forms of
virtual interaction such as ZB. In these digital spaces, the researchers generate ethnographic data
(e.g. field notes about digital interactions and online interviews), but they also include social media
data into their research designs (see methods section for details).
A strength of our project is its transnational structure, which allows us to study the Holocaust-related
memory practices of the digital generation in both Israel and Germany. Rather than simply assuming
that digital technology is a global leveling force, we ask how it influences Holocaust memory in
different countries with different relations to the Holocaust past (Feldman 2005).
Keywords:
digitization
Digitalisierung
media
Medien

Involved staff

Managers

Institute of Historical and Cultural Anthropology (LUI)
Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences
Institute of Historical and Cultural Anthropology (LUI)
Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

Other staff

Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences
Institute of Historical and Cultural Anthropology (LUI)
Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

Local organizational units

Institute of Historical and Cultural Anthropology (LUI)
Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

Funders

Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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