Dr Jan Randa Aftermath Conference 2016 – Rethinking Holocaust Paradigms

19 September – 22 September 2016

What does it mean to develop conceptual paradigms of the Holocaust?  From its etymological roots, “paradigm” denotes patterns, models, precedents, and examples, but also the act of exhibiting those elements “side by side.”  Therefore, at the core of the term is a representational and comparative dimension—one that looks for converging and diverging threads of meaning between various phenomena.

This workshop called for participants to address the limits and possibilities of certain paradigms that have become preeminent in the fields in or in conversation with Holocaust and Genocide Studies:  The critical debates, including those regarding the “Era of the Witness” and multidirectional memory, which have been intertwined with the events of the Eichmann trial of 1961; the conceptions of received history, common and deep memory, and postmemory and their influence on the representation of the Holocaust and trauma in film, testimony, literature, architecture, memorials, and other media; critical frameworks for understanding individual and collective traumas, not only of the Holocaust but also of other histories of suffering; the development of human rights discourses and practices of bearing witness in the public sphere; and finally, debates regarding the uniqueness and incommensurability of the Holocaust and the turn towards comparative approaches to understanding genocide and conflict.

Each of the established and emerging scholars who participated in this workshop have constructed and/or deconstructed various paradigms stemming from the Holocaust.  They were asked to present current or ongoing research that engages with the implications of that construction and deconstruction process, and in so doing, rethink the utility of developing paradigms for addressing current and future instances of genocide and mass violence.