Contested Memories: The Intimate Public & Technologies of Affect in Memorializing Holocaust Trauma

Text Cover: Technologies of Human Rights Representation.
Dr. Barbara LeSavoy, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies, coauthored the chapter “Contested Memories: The Intimate Public & Technologies of Affect in Memorializing Holocaust Trauma” with Dr. Donna Kowal, emerita Honors College Director and Professor of Communication.

The chapter is published with SUNY Press (2022) in the edited volume, “Technologies of Human Rights Representation.” Dr. LeSavoy’s and Dr. Kowal’s scholarship examines trauma and memory as this intersects the politic of representation and visual culture. The chapter abstract follows: 

Public memorials are interactive, polysemic spaces where remembrance is shaped by technologies of visual culture, historical preservation, and individual memory practices, such as using mobile devices to document and share encounters with landmark sites and representations of important events. This essay is a rhetorical analysis of memorials associated with the Holocaust and is aimed at understanding how social media and related technologies transform how we archive emotional affect and represent competing narratives of human rights atrocities. We seek to call attention to the role of technology in negotiating the public/private tension inherent in the public memory of collective trauma and the rhetorical potential that emerging technologies offer for human rights activism aimed at challenging the erasure of memory. Upon analyzing several Holocaust memorials located in Germany, we argue that technology intervenes, disrupts, and alters the public memory of trauma.

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Posted: March 01, 2022