Call for Articles: Performative Holocaust Memory: Interactivity and Participation in Contemporary Memorialisation of the Holocaust

Diana Popescu's picture
Call for Papers
October 31, 2016
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

Performativity has become a distinct, yet under researched, feature of Holocaust representation and commemoration in museums, public art, and annual memorial campaigns. In memorial museums, a preference for a performative mode of representing history is made apparent in the choice of architectural design, the staging of material artefacts, and digital multimedia installations. Each of these devices encourages audience members to engage with history in more vivid, immediate and affective ways. Public memorials are designed as walk-in monuments inviting visitors to experience more immersive forms of commemoration. Public commemoration events take on a theatrical dimension, as they include carefully chosen scripts and symbolic acts. These practices are performative insofar as they produce a transformation in individual or communal attitudes and behaviours towards any form of prejudice, discrimination and intolerance. Beyond mere spectatorship, visitors to museums and public memorials and participants in annual memorial campaigns are invited to endorse multiple subject positions, including performers of memory, as witnesses to the past, as agents of commemoration or as responsible social actors. Yet, there is less understanding of how diverse members of the public or community groups engage with or respond to these invitations.

This Special Issue welcomes contributions which reflect critically on the role and impact of performance, interactivity and participation related to public memorialisation of the Holocaust in diverse geographical contexts in the last twenty years. Thematic areas of interest include public memorials and commemoration events, museum exhibitions, art installations, performances and educational projects.


Topics might include (but are not restricted to):

  • The rationale for using interactive and audience participatory devices in Holocaust memorial museums and in public spaces
  • The function and effect of mise en scenes of archival materials and material objects in public spaces, museums and art galleries
  • Qualitative analyses of visitors’ experiences of and responses to public commemorations, interactive Holocaust exhibitions, artistic projects or other cultural initiatives
  • Reflections on the benefits or potential harms of interactive forms of  audience engagement with the Holocaust
  • Reflections on the tensions between conveying information in engaging ways and the risks of entertainment or trivialization
  • The use of performative strategies to teach about empathy, and social and civic responsibility
  • The performative dimensions of memory transmission made visible in specific gestures, behaviours or repetitive actions performed by individuals, communities or members of different generations
  • The function of performances such as recitals of songs, poems, or oral testimonies during Holocaust commemorative events
  • Critical readings of public commemorations that involve community participation
  • Investigations of the social impact of street commemorations or memory campaigns, for example, their ability to alter audience members’ perceptions of the past or to forge group identities
  • Alternative or grassroots commemoration ceremonies that propose new forms of participation in Holocaust remembrance
  • Artist-led memorial actions including guided tours, sonic memorials or public art interventions.


Submission instructions:

Please send an article abstract of 250 words and a short biographical note by 31 October 2016 to

The special issue will be submitted for peer review to Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History. Articles will contain 8,000–12,000 words including endnotes. Each manuscript should have 3-6 keywords. For complete instructions on submitting a manuscript, please visit the journal website:

The preferred date for submission of articles is 30 December 2016. Please contact the editors if you would like to submit an article after this date.

Special Issue editors:

The Special Issue will be edited by Dr Diana Popescu, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London, and Dr Tanja Schult, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University. Their research project ‘Performative Holocaust Commemoration since the Year 2000’ is financed by the Swedish Research Council.

If you have any queries please contact Diana Popescu.


Contact Info: 

Dr Diana Popescu


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