Institute News

2014 International Conference Panel Spotlight: Social Engagements with Holocaust Remembrance in New Media

A different panel or roundtable at USC Shoah Foundation’s upcoming international conference, Memory, Media and Technology: Exploring the Trajectories of Schindler’s List, will be profiled each week.

The Social Engagements with Holocaust Remembrance in New Media panel will illustrate just three of the many fascinating ways scholars are looking at testimony in its various forms in order to study the mediation of Holocaust remembrance.

The panel will be moderated by Professor Johanna Blakely, managing director and director of research at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism’s Norman Lear Center, where she performs research on global entertainment, cultural diplomacy, celebrity culture, fashion, digital media and intellectual property law.

Rachel Baum, from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, will present Reframing Testimony: Holograms and the Future of Witnessing. Baum will discuss how the performative space of testimony changes when there is no longer a testifier. Her exploration of contemporary technologies such as augmented reality and USC Institute for Creative Technologies and Conscience Display’s New Dimensions in Testimony project suggests that the advent of new media brings new attention to the role of the listener, the audience of testimony.

The University of Illinois’s Paris Papamichos Chronakis will present his research project Bonds of Survival: Reconstructing the Social Networks of Holocaust Survivors. At Brown University, he collaborated with undergraduate students and Jean Bauer, a Brown librarian, to develop a program to visualize the networks that Holocaust survivors from Saloniki developed in Auschwitz, drawn from hundreds of testimonies in the Visual History Archive.

The project aims to explore survivors as groups rather than isolated individuals, who formed relationships and networks while interned in concentration camps that may have helped them survive.

Chronakis is a co-founder of the Group for the Study of the History of the Jews of Greece in which he and other scholars used hundreds of Visual History Archive testimonies among other sources to develop the online Database of Greek-Jewish Holocaust Survivors' Testimonies, a searchable, integrated database of all existing Greek-Jewish Holocaust survivor testimonies. His research interests include the history of the Sephardim and Greek Orthodox in the 19th and 20th centuries and the history of the Mediterranean middle classes.

Finally, Texas A&M doctoral candidate Aya Yadlin-Segal will present her research about online user comments about the Academy Award-winning Iranian film A Separation. In It Happened Before and it will Happen Again: Online User Comments as a Non-Commemorative Site of Holocaust Remembrance, Yadlin-Segal argues that the comments demonstrate how Holocaust commemoration is not carried only through intentional commemorative activities, but also through mundane practices of interpretation such as writing an online comment. Thus, user comments are defined as a non-commemorative platform of collective memory, which involves unauthorized voices of the Israeli society (as opposed to official authorized ones) in the task of Holocaust commemoration.