Transnational Holocaust research, commemoration, and dissemination forms the mission of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI). Its biggest challenge is the broad dispersal of original sources and disciplinary knowledge across many institutions. Since 2010, EHRI has been working to overcome this fragmentation and dislocation of the Holocaust’s legacy and to connect historical materials, institutions, and researchers. The subsequent opportunity to research, interlink, mediatise, and present digital data in virtual space has resulted in new research paradigms: Holocaust research and its dissemination can now be considered transnational, transcultural, digital, and interdisciplinary. EHRI has adopted the processes of digital transformation from the fields of digital history and digital humanities and regards itself as the engine of new digital methods and tools. Aside from exploiting the potentials afforded by mobile technology, EHRI is perceived as a scholarly infrastructure engaged in the long-term, sustainable networking of diverse expertise from the field of Holocaust research and dissemination, crossing disciplinary and institutional boundaries and going beyond the various politics and logics of national histories. We warmly invite proposals for the first EHRI-AT conference, entitled CONNECTED HISTORIES. MEMORIES AND NARRATIVES OF THE HOLOCAUST IN DIGITAL SPACE.
The World Wide Web and digitisation have proven to be irreplaceable instruments for the history of the Holocaust and its commemoration. Its technical potential constitutes the foundation of what Marianne Hirsch in 2012 termed “postmemory’s archival turn”. It has become an indispensable tool also for the mobilisation of the most varied social and ethnic groups engaged in public history. The example of the Holocaust impressively shows the paradigmatic shift taking place in the humanities. Memorial institutions today use the Internet on a very high professional level, as a site of self-presentation and representation and as a discussion forum for increasingly international, transcultural, and interdisciplinary audiences.
At the same time, it is not always established institutions that are using the technical possibilities of the internet to their fullest extent. Creative and sometimes controversially discussed new forms of narrating the history of the Holocaust or digitally remediated forms of Holocaust commemoration are emerging amongst individuals and groups who do not work within the realm of large memorial sites, museums, and archives. Such “private” representations have become especially popular following the boom of so-called Social Media. The use of the Internet and Social Media demonstrates – also within the context of the Holocaust – that new structures of decision-making have arisen in society that exceed the potential of traditional mass media, alongside new public forms and forums that work differently, disseminate content differently, activate people differently, and thereby not only generate a passive reception, but on the contrary, live from the broad participation of the public.
Thus, the planned international conference will focus on digital space as an abstract and unlimited archive for the mediation of the Holocaust.
1) Inter- and Transgenerational Aspects:
As a space of discussion, encounter, and conflict between generations and histories, the digital space offers an opportunity to re-think the transgenerational dissemination of trauma, family histories, and disseminated contexts: Exploiting digital possibilities, how can inter- and transgenerational processes be reconsidered? What new language is enabled by digital media (sharing, liking, hashtags)? How do these processes challenge conventional generational concepts or thinking in generations?
2) Research and the Production of Knowledge vs. Dissemination in the Digital World
The World Wide Web as a digital archive appears to be an endless source of knowledge. However, while forgetting seems theoretically impossible in digital space due to automatic storage and duplication, the expanse and complexity of the Internet prevent adequate rememberance? What challenges do the new narrative forums and media pose to historical research? How do historians’ positions and generational belongings affect their engagement with the media of history? How do new forms of presentation and the availability of (historical) information and (archival) materials in digital space affect research? What interdisciplinary connections – especially regarding digital storytelling and public history – are still required? What new questions can be raised by artists, authors, disseminators, computer scientists, and so on in the field of digital Holocaust studies?
3) Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics
Digital space asks for a reconsideration in many areas and opens up perspectives of national, transnational, transcultural, and global networks: Who are we in virtual space? Who is writing/speaking? What forms and concepts of personal and/or collective authorship matter here? And what role does ostensible anonymity play in the digital sphere? What potential and/or challenges arise from participatory archive and research projects? What new alliances and political identities emerge in this space? What (im)possibilities does digital space offer in order to tell established narratives differently or to create new positionings? What dangers emerge from this freedom (fake (hi)stories, conteos, conspiracy theories)? How can questions and problems from analogue Holocaust research and dissemination be (re)engaged with in digital space, for example with regard to copyright and publicity rights: What do we understand under privacy rights? How can they be digitally safeguarded? And what does this conversely mean in historical retrospect, in working with historical materials? What limitations emerge due to (variable) copyright laws („digital cliff of death“)?
Panels: Each panel will feature three presentations (20 minutes each.) Your submission needs to include an abstract for the panel, the chair's name as well as a CV (if you already know who will be chair), titles and abstracts of each presentation (250–300 words each) and a CV of every presenter (50–100 words each).
Presentation: If you submit a presentation, your submission needs to include your name, the title of your presentation, an abstract of your presentation (250–300 words) and a CV (50–100 Wörter).
Submissions for the Open Space: Since this conference has the character of a workshop, we invite proposals for presentations as well as other formats, like poster presentations, artistic interventions, roundtable discussions, and so on. We explicitly invite initiatives and artistic or memorial projects from the fields of citizen science and artistic research. Submissions for the Open Space need to include an abstract (250–300 words), a CV of every presenter (50–100 words each) as well as information on the execution and technical requirements
Please submit your proposal (all in one file) in German or English by 30 November 2021 to https://webapp.uibk.ac.at/connectedhistories22. If you require further information, please contact ConnectedHistories2022@uibk.ac.at. The participants will be notified by 14 January 2022.
The conference will take place in Vienna from 23 to 25 May 2022. The conference languages will be German and English. We plan to publish a selection of contributions. Accommodation costs in Vienna will be covered. Participants are requested to cover their travel costs independently and might later be reimbursed up to 300 Euros, pending approval from funding bodies.