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Trauma, Memory, Media

October 7-9, 2015

CJMC: Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Jewish Culture, University of Copenhagen


This interdisciplinary conference, workshop and PhD course is dedicated to an analysis of interviews with Holocaust survivors. An exemplary recording from the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University will be discussed from multiple perspectives, including psychoanalysis and psychiatry, media sociology, the anthropology of witnessing, and existential phenomenology.

We will focus on specific hermeneutic problems surfacing in audio-visual Holocaust testimonies: How are we to interpret manifestations of the absent within the re-presented? Trying to clarify how meaning can be aligned with silences, halts and stutters, ‘blank spaces’ in disrupted speech, bewildered looks and gestures, our aim is not only to explore the contents of these accounts, but also to reflect upon the role of the medium used to convey them (video interviews combining narrative and image).

An investigation of these very complex sources is vital when we address such questions as: What do these witness accounts show concerning the problem of articulating and coping with a traumatic, nearly unbearable past? How may interlocutors respond to Holocaust testimonies in a manner that minimizes the risk of re-traumatization? And, last but not least, how can compassionate listeners guard themselves against secondary traumatization?

Confirmed speakers:

Dori Laub (Yale University)

Daniel Dayan (Marcel Mauss Institute, Paris / The New School for Social Research, New York)

Amit Pinchevski (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

Rachel Rosenblum (Paris Psychoanalytic Society)

Christine Tind Johannesen-Henry (University of Copenhagen)

PhD session:

Ben Kasstan (Durham University)

Casper Løwenstein (University of Copenhagen)

Michael Perlt (University of Copenhagen)

Programme here

Participation is free, but online registration required here.