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Noah Shenker

Senior Fellow (01/2022-07/2022)


Beyond the Era of the Witness: The Digital Afterlife of Holocaust Testimony


ShenkerThe “era of the witness” marked by a consolidation of survivor memory through film, testimonies, and other media, is giving way to a period when witnesses will no longer be present to anchor representations with their living, moral authority. The USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony Project (DiT) has tried to address those challenges by using motion-capture technology, intensive interviewing, and database-structured artificial intelligence to create a collection of on-demand virtual, interactive witnesses. In my current book project, we offer scholars, archivists, curators, and others, a framework for interpreting and working with the DiT and other digital representations of the Holocaust. It demonstrates how initiatives like the DiT draw upon a long genealogy of automata and virtual humans. Seen within that historical lineage, the DiT avatars are not only testifying witnesses, but virtual, pedagogical agents that are part of a larger history of interactive learning that often interacts with and is at times subsumed by spectacle.


Noah Shenker is the 6a Foundation and N. Milgrom Senior Lecturer in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of the book Reframing Holocaust Testimony (Indiana University Press, 2015) and of several articles and chapters on topics addressing representations of the Holocaust and other genocides through film, testimony, and new media. He is currently working on Beyond the Era of the Witness: The Digital Afterlife of Holocaust Testimony, a co-authored book with Dan Leopard.


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June 2024
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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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