Practices of Memory and Knowledge Production

22nd Workshop in Budapest: Practices of Memory and Knowledge Production


Place: Budapest, Hungary

Date: October 17 – October 22, 2017


Organizing team: Janine Fubel (Berlin, Germany), Christoph Gollasch (Berlin, Germany), Katja Grosse-Sommer (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Borbála Klacsmann (Szeged/Budapest, Hungary), Olga Kulinchenko (Voronezh, Russian Federation), Denisa Nestakova (Bratislava, Slovakia), Mareike Otters (Oberhausen, Germany)

Deadline for applications: February 24, 2017

Since 1994, the “Workshop on the History and Memory of National Socialist Camps and Extermination Sites” has been organized annually by and for university graduates. The workshop addresses young scholars interested in presenting their research projects as well as in connecting and sharing ideas. It provides space for academic discussions, for raising questions, addressing problems and giving advice for respective research projects. The workshop intends to support international and interdisciplinary research by promoting a dialogue between researchers. A distinctive feature of the workshop is its principle of self-organization. Students and graduates can take part in the workshops in three different forms: as speakers, as participants and as members of the organizing team. The workshops are held at locations related to the topic of National Socialist camps and mass extermination sites. In October 2017, the 22nd Workshop will take place in Budapest, Hungary and deal with the topic “Practices of Memory and Knowledge Production”.

Although Hungary joined the Axis in 1940, the governments at first did prevent the deportation of Hungarian Jews or Roma to the German death camps. Nevertheless their lives were heavily restricted by discriminatory laws and measures enforced by Hungarian authorities. In summer 1941, they deported 18,000 Jews to the German occupied territories in Ukraine, most of whom were soon after murdered by German killing units in Kamenets-Podolsk. A few months later the Hungarian military shot over 3,400 civilians, most of them Jews and Serbs, during the Novi Sad raid.

Systematic ghettoization and deportations of the rural Jewish population to death camps began only after the German occupation of the country in March 1944. The 200,000 Jews of Budapest were spared deportation to the death camps. Instead, they were kept hostage in “yellow star hous-es” and were later concentrated in two ghettos, established by the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party.

Until the end of the war in April 1945 around 450,000 to 550,000 Hungarian Jews and 5,000 to 15,000 Roma died in military labour service or were murdered in ghettos, camps and mass shoot-ings by the members of the Arrow Cross Party. The Hungarian government, local authorities and the civilian population did not only tolerate the process of their social and economic isolation, concentration and later deportation and annihilation, but, in large parts, actively supported it.

After the war, Budapest witnessed several regime changes, which are reflected in a variety of monuments and museums scattered all over the city. During the socialist era from 1949 until 1989 the subject of the Holocaust was monopolized and mostly silenced by the regime. It became part of the official memory culture only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2001 the National Holocaust Memorial Day on April 16 was introduced. Three years later the government founded the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest. In the 2000s, Holocaust memorials were built in several cities and towns including the “shoe monument” in Budapest (2005) and a monument for the murdered Roma (2006). Recent initiatives of commemoration comprise an interactive website that reveals the location, photos and testimonies concerning the “yellow star houses”, and an interactive monument for the former ghetto.

However, the suppression of the Holocaust memory during the socialist era has led to an ongoing competitive victimhood: the suffering and numbers of the victims of the Holocaust and the Soviet oppression are constantly juxtaposed. In line with a current political directive, responsibility for collaboration with the Nazis is not clearly assigned. Such narratives can be observed at the permanent exhibition of the House of Terror and on the infamous “Memorial for the Victims of the German Occupation” – a statue that was set up at Budapest’s Liberty Square in the “Holocaust Memorial Year” 2014.

Some of the above mentioned monuments and places will be visited during the workshop, providing the participants with the opportunity to get to know and to discuss clashing historical narratives in Hungary. These discussions will serve as a starting point to more generally reflect on how different societies commemorate National Socialist camps and extermination sites, and how historical knowledge is generated and disseminated through practices of memory.


We invite MA- and PhD-candidates to apply. Presentations should be related to the topic of this year: Practices of Memory and Knowledge Production.

Possible themes include (but are not restricted to) the following:

–      cultures and politics of commemoration related to camps and extermination sites

politicization and instrumentalization of memory; collective memory; transnational/national/local and individual narratives and identities; post-war trials; compensation and reparation; multi-directional memory

–      social practices of memory related to camps and extermination sites

perceptions of actors; ethics of memory; (mis)treatment of victims and survivors; competition of victimhood; marginalized groups (Roma and Sinti, political prisoners, homosexuals, forced labourers, Jehovah`s Witnesses, “anti-socials”, victims of sexualized violence); (dis)continuity of discrimination; silenced/lost memory; tabooization; gender and memory

–      sites, sources, and media of memory camps and extermination sites

memorials, museums, arts; historical sites of atrocity; new dimensions of testimonies; oral history; education; trauma

Applicants are requested to send in an abstract of their research project (two pages maximum) and a short CV. We encourage university graduates from a variety of disciplines (history, sociology, philosophy, literature, theology, art etc.) to apply.

The presentation should not exceed 20 minutes. After the presentation there will be time for a 40-minute discussion on the topic of the paper. The presentations will be held in English. The papers presented during the workshop will be published in a collective volume.

Applications should be sent to by February 24, 2017. The organizing team will send out acceptances by March 31, 2017. For those interested in participating without presenting a paper, a Call for Participants will be published by March 1, 2017.

We are currently applying for funding to cover the costs of the conference, as well as the costs of accommodation and travel expenses.

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