No Face, No Name, and No Number. The Museology of Holocaust Materiality and Memory

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic


My keynote critically assessed the process of Holocaust musealisation, focusing on material objects and visual testimonies within a context of competing memories. Therefore I will look at three ‘Dutch’ cases: a camp jacket in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, a name tag in the Sobibór collection of Majdanek State Museum, and the well-known Life photograph from the Getty collection of ‘the Young Boy from Belsen’. All three are fundamentally misunderstood.
Although exemplary for the current interest in traces and spaces, sites and indexicality, personal objects and family stories, and thus characteristic of the so-called Postmemory Archival Turn (Hirsch), the musealisation of familial
postmemories is, however, far from straight-forward. Making persons in numbers (by uniforms), numbers in faces (by name tags), and faces in persons (by testimonies), creates a powerful archive of which the nmenonic impact
supposes, paradoxically, a fundamental ‘dehumanising’ of materiality.
Period25 Jan 2019
Event titleRavenstein Seminar Memory and Materiality: OSL Winter School
Event typeSeminar
LocationUtrecht, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational