The field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies is at a critical juncture. Archives, testimony projects, documentation centres, and new tools in the fields of salvaging and mapping sites of conflict have proliferated and thus present new and urgent possibilities for documenting and transmitting histories and memories of traumatic events. Consequently, the expansion of new sources (ranging from recently opened Holocaust archives to the creation of Rwandan testimony projects) and the unearthing of sites of destruction (in locations like Cambodia and Darfur) compel explorations of how evidence will be accessed and interpreted with an attention to their cultural, historical, topographical, and media specificity, and how they will be engaged not only in scholarly and pedagogical terms but also in larger areas of social and political practice.

This conference is situated within the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and so will address core conceptual and methodological questions concerning comparative approaches to genocide research using newly available sources and sites. That comparative stake is all the more important given that many recent and contemporary methods of documenting and analysing genocides, ranging from the Armenian and Cambodian contexts to the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, have often been circumscribed by historiographical and archival frameworks and practices shaped by the experiences and debates surrounding the Holocaust.

With that in mind, this conference is interested in engaging the following questions:

  • How do scholars and archivists incorporate sources encompassing ephemera, memoirs, architectures and topographies, testimonies, photographs, and found moving image footage, among others, into the writing of the Holocaust in particular and genocides more broadly?
  • In what ways can we integrate traditional modes of scholarly inquiry with new developments in documenting, preserving, and addressing new sources which are often captured in real time and thus require more immediate critical and social intervention?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities for scholars attempting to work with a growing collection of data across multiple platforms and media (online videos, multimedia testimonies, social networking and mapping tools, and digitized text-based sources) that span various disciplines and methodologies that are often alien to their traditional areas of training?
  • To what extent are there limits and possibilities of utilizing the Holocaust as a conceptual framework for documenting other genocides? Are the cultural, historical, and site-specific aspects of non-Holocaust events compromised in the process of adopting the Holocaust as a methodological paradigm?