Digital Humanities: Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

Period of Performance

6/1/2016 - 3/31/2018

Funding Totals

$73,168.00 (approved)
$61,906.94 (awarded)

Visualizing Spatial Experience in the Holocaust

FAIN: HD-248377-16

University of Maine, Orono (Orono, ME 04473-1513)
Anne Kelly Knowles (Project Director: September 2015 to June 2019)

Employing computational linguistics and natural language processing techniques to study how Holocaust survivors use spatial terms to describe their experiences. Testimonies from the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Center collection would provide the sources for the preliminary study.

First-person accounts are central to understanding the Holocaust. Our project will be the first to examine survivors' testimony for the spatiality of individuals' experiences. Drawing on video interviews with survivors, we will analyze the language survivors use in speaking of places, events, movement, relationships, and their perceptions of space and time. We will focus on how their social networks were fragmented and reformed and the spatial characteristics of work places and work relationships experienced by forced laborers in ghettos and labor camps. We will do this through a hybrid methodology that combines close listening with spatial visualization and corpus and computational linguistics methods that we will apply to interview transcripts. The dictionary of spatial and relational terms this will produce, along with our visual conceptualizations of the topologies of experience, will enable us to link survivors to Nazi-controlled spaces represented in our existing GIS datasets.

Associated Products

Interview with Anne Knowles, Tim Cole, Alberto Giordano, and Paul Jaskot (Book Section)
Title: Interview with Anne Knowles, Tim Cole, Alberto Giordano, and Paul Jaskot
Author: Claudio Fogu
Author: Todd Presner
Editor: Wulf Kansteiner
Editor: Claudio
Editor: Todd Presner
Abstract: Depictions of the Holocaust in history, literature, and film became a focus of intense academic debate in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, with the passing of the eyewitness generation and the rise of comparative genocide studies, the Holocaust’s privileged place not only in scholarly discourse but across Western society has been called into question. Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture is a searching reappraisal of the debates and controversies that have shaped Holocaust studies over a quarter century. This landmark volume brings international scholars of the founding generation of Holocaust studies into conversation with a new generation of historians, artists, and writers who have challenged the limits of representation through their scholarly and cultural practices. Focusing on the public memorial cultures, testimonial narratives, and artifacts of cultural memory and history generated by Holocaust remembrance, the volume examines how Holocaust culture has become institutionalized, globalized, and variously contested. Organized around three interlocking themes—the stakes of narrative, the remediation of the archive, and the politics of exceptionality—the essays in this volume explore the complex ethics surrounding the discourses, artifacts, and institutions of Holocaust remembrance. From contrasting viewpoints and, in particular, from the multiple perspectives of genocide studies, the authors question if and why the Holocaust should remain the ultimate test case for ethics and a unique reference point for how we understand genocide and crimes against humanity.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Entry in WorldCat
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Entry in Harvard University Press Catalog
Access Model: Printed book
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Book Title: Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture : The Roots of Militarism, 1866–1945
ISBN: 9780674970519