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Between Memory And Materiality: An Archaeological Approach To Studying The Nazi Concentration Camps

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Chapter Summary

By its very nature, historical narrative that is rooted exclusively in textual sources is destined to be more linear, more univocal, and less equipped to deal with the problematic. This chapter negotiates between two approaches to studying the concentration camps of the Third Reich-one canonical the other experimental. It is suggested that when studying the camps, we are faced with a series of tensions: between past and present, between remembering and forgetting, and between live human actors and the material record. The chapter explores two research paradigms: first, the traditional text-centric historical approach, and second, an approach that might be called 'historical archaeological'. It embraces the inherent tensions between the two approaches, and put forward some innovative ways for coming to terms with these places of internment.

Keywords: graffiti; materiality; Nazi Concentration Camps



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