AUP graduation ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.


Comparative Lenses: Video Testimonies of Survivors and Eyewitnesses on Genocide and Mass Violence

Omid & Gisel Kordestani Rooftop Conference Center (Q801) | Guests must enter through 6, rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris | 9am - 7pm June 6 and 7
Thursday, June 6, 2019 - 09:00 to Friday, June 7, 2019 - 19:00

The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention, Yahad – In Unum, the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, and the AGBU Nubar Library are organizing an international interdisciplinary conference on the scholarly uses of video testimonies for understanding genocide and mass violence. The conference will be held in Paris on June 6th and 7th 2019.

Victim testimony as a source for the study of genocide and mass violence has been the subject of longstanding debate in the social sciences and humanities, especially among historians. This conference aims to deepen the discussion by inviting participants to present on three areas of focus:

  1. video testimonies collected from the late 1970s up to the present-day;
  2. video testimonies of victims as well as eyewitnesses;
  3. video testimonies documenting the Holocaust and other mass atrocities.

What are the challenges of collecting testimonies on genocide and mass violence? To what extent have technological advances altered the recording and subsequent exploitation of video testimonies? How has collecting video testimonies on genocide and mass violence changed the categorization and scope of the witnesses and their narratives about genocide and mass violence? Do we need a new lexicon to convey the scope of all the perspectives and points of view on genocide and mass violence? 

What are the characteristics of the collections of existing video testimonies of genocide and mass violence? What is their scholarly, technical, and memorial potential?  The Visual History Archive, due to its wide accessibility and enormous scope, is prominent among the corpus of Holocaust testimonies, but to what extent is it also a relevant source for the study of the other crimes that it documents?

What insights do video testimonies of victims and eyewitnesses contribute to documenting and understanding the Holocaust and other crimes?  What are the possibilities and what are the limitations of video as a medium compared to other media used to record testimony? What do we gain by analyzing video testimony through the lens of different theoretical approaches, such as comparative history,histoire croisée, or multidirectional memory?

Read the conference program

Organizing committee: Patrice Bensimon (YIU), Caitlin Bertin-Mahieux (AUP), Constance Pâris de Bollardière (AUP), Brian Schiff (AUP)

Scientific committee: Boris Adjemian (AGBU Nubar Library), Patrice Bensimon (YIU), Michal Chojak (YIU), Alexandra Garbarini (Williams College), Wolf Gruner (USC), Constance Pâris de Bollardière (AUP), Brian Schiff (AUP)


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