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Keeping the Memory of the Holocaust Alive: Possibilities and Limitations of Performative Practices of Commemoration

Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

Event Information

25th October, 2016
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, University of London, 28 Russell Square, WC1B 5DQ
Dr Diana Popescu, Pears Institute Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London

Increasingly, museum curators and artists in various geographical contexts tell stories about the past using elements borrowed from theatre, digital media, religious ritual and performance art. In these diverse mise-en-scenes, members of the public take on not only the role of learners, but also of agents of commemoration – responsible for keeping the past in living memory, and for standing up to intolerance and injustice in their societies. This paper asks: What are the reasons for the rise in performative practices of commemoration? What might these practices inform us about the functions assigned to Holocaust remembrance in today’s societies? This paper will reflect critically on the impact which experiential forms of engaging with this history have upon contemporary audiences, and on the broader challenges of communicating about the Holocaust without it becoming a moral lesson, or a cultural commodity.

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