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Latest Events and Calls

24. April 2019 15:00
VWI invites/goes to...Kathryn Brackney: Beyond Bearing Witness. Art and Literature after the Holocaust, 1945-1963
VWI invites Institute for Contemporary Art at the Technical University Graz    In recent years, scholars have devoted increasing attention to memory of the Holocaust in the early postwar period before the Eichmann trial. This presentation highlights the cultural produc...Weiterlesen...
07. May 2019 18:00
VWI Visual»Bílá nemoc/Die Weiße Krankheit«,ČSR 1937, Regie: Hugo Haas, 106 Min., OmeU
Nach einem Theaterstück von Karel Čapek. Kommentiert von Michal Frankl (VWI), Mojmír Jeřábek (Tschechisches Zentrum Wien), Jana Starek (VWI) Der Antikriegsfilm von Regisseur Hugo Haas ist eine Adaptation des gleichnamigen Bühnenstückes von Karel Čapek, der den Kriegsausbruch vorau...Weiterlesen...
08. May 2019 15:00
VWI invites/goes to...Thomas Chopard: A Jewish Family from Poland to America. Exploring Persecution Trajectories in Their Collective and Social Dimensions
VWI invites the Institute of Modern and Contemporary History at the Austrian Academy of Sciences Focussing on one specific family as an example, this presentation will mobilise every source available (produced by persecution, migration, administration, and relief) in order to combine...Weiterlesen...
08. May 2019 18:00
VWI Visual»Lang ist der Weg«, D 1947/48, Regie: Herbert B. Fredersdorf, Marek Goldstein, 78 Min., jid./pol.mdU
Kommentiert von René Bienert (VWI), Imme Klages (Johannes Gutenberg- Universität Mainz) und Juliane Wetzel (Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, TU Berlin) M. Goldstein und A. Weinstein kamen 1946 aus Polen nach München, wo sie die Produktionsgesellschaft „Jiddische Film Organisazie“...Weiterlesen...
09. May 2019 20:30
VWI Visual"Who Will Write Our History", USA 2018, Regie: Roberta Grossman, 95 Min., engl. OF
Kommentiert von Paweł Spiewak und Małgorzata Wosińska (Jüdisches Historisches Institut Warschau) Roberta Grossmans vielgelobter Dokumentarfilm erzählt die Geschichte der Entstehung jenes geheimen Archives im Warschauer Ghetto, das eine jüdische Widerstandsgruppe um den Historiker E...Weiterlesen...
22. May 2019 18:00
VWI invites/goes to...Ion Popa: Conversion and Identity. Experiences of Jews who Converted to Christianity Before and During the Holocaust
VWI goes to the Koordinierungsausschuss für christlich-jüdische Zusammenarbeit Research into the attitude of Churches towards Jews during the Holocaust, which has grown steadily in the last ten years, has shown the extent of Jews’ conversions as a way of avoiding persecution and deat...Weiterlesen...
28. May 2019 18:30
VWI invites/goes to...Michala Lônčíková: Antisemitic Propaganda During the Second World War. The Case of the Slovak State and the Independent State of Croatia
VWI invites/goes to the Slovak Institute in Vienna Propaganda played a significant role in creating and enforcing totalitarian regimes, especially in the war-time period, by shaping public opinion. Antisemitism was central to the ideology of the former Nazi satellites. This lecture w...Weiterlesen...

Call for Papers:


The Forensic Turn in Holocaust Studies? (Re-)Thinking the Past Through Materiality.


International workshop organised by the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI)


Vienna, 25-26 June 2015


Click here to download the Call for Papers as a PDF file.

In Holocaust Studies, a new turn seems to advance: after the era of classical written source based historiography and 'the era of the witness' characterised by the paradigmatic role of survivor testimony in Holocaust research and remembrance, a forensic approach comes to the foreground nowadays. In recent years, the sites of the former concentration and extermination camps in Germany, Austria, Poland and beyond, as well as the mass graves at the 'killing sites' spread throughout Eastern Europe, have become the objects of archaeological research, contributing, in this way, to the development of a new subdiscipline, 'Holocaust archaeology.' This discipline becomes crucial where sources and witnesses are not available and enables confrontation of Holocaust deniers with facts. While acknowledging its unquestionable importance for fostering historical research on post-Holocaust landscapes, this workshop seeks to investigate the theoretical, methodological, political and practical implications of the 'forensic turn' for their investigation, memorialisation and experience.


Centred on material traces of genocidal violence, such as spatial structures, physical remnants, mass graves and human remains, the 'forensic turn' could be seen as a response to the gradual passing away of Holocaust victims. At the same time, it reflects broader changes in practical and conceptual approaches to legacies of (genocidal) violence across cultures and geographies brought about by the urge for historiographical, historical, ancestral and personal clarifications, quests for justice or processes of reconciliation in its aftermath. Facilitating exchange between archaeological methods, historiographical research, political interventions, and commemorative practices at the places marked by difficult pasts, the development of genocide and Holocaust archaeologies also necessitates transdisciplinary research on the intersections between their material, spatial, narrative and political dimensions. The interest in materialities and spatialities of genocidal violence opens, therefore, space for new theoretical and ethical questions, methodological perspectives and research topics.


Taking as a vantage point debates surrounding archaeological research at post-Holocaust landscapes, the workshop aims to provide a comparative view of Holocaust archaeologies within a broader framework of the 'forensic turn' in Europe and beyond. The reflection on former Yugoslavian, Spanish or Greek examples, as well as on the outcomes of the excavations undertaken, for instance, in Cambodia or in Stalinist sites of mass murder, could possibly contribute to the critical elaboration of the questions arising in the face of these newly investigated sites.

The workshop intends to focus on four questions:


  • "Archaeology as a Political Practice" will examine the trajectories of political mobilisation of forensic archaeology in the contexts of mass violence and genocide. It will focus on the actors and agendas involved in archaeological investigations, differentiating between state-sponsored and civil society or human rights activism initiatives. The panel will look at the restoration of dignity by proper burial as a part of transitional justice processes, trace those processes, which intend to bring to light long, repressed and submerged histories, and ask about the political means of instrumentalisation of the dead.

  • "Contested Methodologies" will explore practical, legal and religious issues related to exhumations, forensic practices and archaeological research. It will inquire about national differences between jurisdictions regarding archaeological research, ask about political and religious sensitivities which have to be taken into consideration, and expound problems and differences between methodologies like invasive and noninvasive approaches.

  • The panel "Research, Preservation, Memorialisation" will focus on the conflict zones made up by various approaches to the material remains of genocidal violence. This panel intends to elaborate on legal and technical uses of human remains, like exhumation, exposition, and reburial. It will focus on tensions between the processes of museification and the practical uses of the sites, as well as between archaeological research and commemorative projects.

  • “Ethics and Aesthetics” will discuss the ethical issues surrounding excavations, exhumations, disinterment, reburial and the restoration of dignity of the dead. It will also deal with forms, mediums and possibilities of presenting and exhibiting archaeologically retrieved remnants and objects on the one hand, and the outcomes of the archaeological research on the other. The role of artistic practices and interventions within the framework of the ‘forensic turn’ will also be analysed. 


The workshop organisers are inviting suggestions for discussion contributions on the subject of the questions cited above, contributions that intervene in the existing mind-sets and practices and create an awareness of existing logics and routines in order to open these up, or new perspectives and reformulations.

The workshop languages will be German and English. The costs for accommodation will be covered by the organisers. The organisers' ability to cover travel costs is also subject to current efforts to raise separate funding.

Please submit your applications in German or in English (including an abstract of the topic of your contribution of at most 3,500 characters as well as a short biography) under the subject line "Workshop 2015" by 30 April, 2015 to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The contributions at the workshop should last no longer than 20 minutes. A jury appointed by the organisers will make the decision on the acceptance of proposals. You will receive an immediate confirmation of the receipt of your proposal. If you do not receive a confirmation, please send a reminder.

Organisation: Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies

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