Emotions and Holocaust Studies

September 13, 2022 at 8:00 am - September 14, 2022 at 5:00 pm EDT

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Emotions and Holocaust Studies

September 13, 2022 at 8:00 am September 14, 2022 at 5:00 pm Online

The persecution and murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust provoke various powerful emotions (grief, despair, pain, hope, etc.). These personal sentiments and feelings play a significant role in motivating people to be interested in the Holocaust and are a driving force in fictional representations and academic debates. Yet Holocaust Studies has focused so far primarily on historical facts, structures, and institutions, rather than studying the emotions experienced during and after the events. Scholars who pay attention to emotions, usually explore the role of fear and antisemitic hatred in Nazi propaganda and the rise of antisemitism throughout Europe, but rarely discuss the emotions of victims or the feelings that motivated people to become rescuers or other historical actors.

Recent scholarship on the history of emotions has helped us broaden our understanding of historical events and how they continue to shape our lives. These studies point to the functions of emotions in guiding people’s understanding of and reactions to the situations they are in, influencing decision-making processes, contributing to the making and breaking of social relationships, and informing memories and moral orientations. The study of emotions brings to light how feelings shaped the history of Jews and non-Jews during and after the Holocaust; it also reveals cultural and social patterns that continue to affect people’s lives today. Such an approach can help us understand the ways in which trauma and loss were integrated into people’s lives. This workshop offers a platform to integrate these insights into Holocaust Studies.

A follow-up in-person event is planned at Goethe University, Frankfurt in early 2023.

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