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Volume 10

Museums and Collections

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The Witness as Object

Video Testimony in Memorial Museums

Steffi de Jong

280 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-643-0 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (January 2018)



“This is an impressive and often powerfully written book. It offers an insightful analysis and an accessible point of entry into key debates around the function of testimony and the differences between communicative and cultural memory.” · Andrea Witcomb, Deakin University

“This excellent volume makes an original and timely contribution to the study of museums on the one hand, and to contemporary reflections on mediated witnessing on the other.” · Tamar Katriel, University of Haifa


In recent years, historical witnessing has emerged as a category of "museum object." Audiovisual recordings of interviews with individuals remembering events of historical importance are now integral to the collections and research activities of museums. They have also become important components in narrative and exhibition design strategies. With a focus on Holocaust museums, this study scrutinizes for the first time the new global phenomenon of the "musealization" of the witness to history, exploring the processes, prerequisites, and consequences of the transformation of video testimonies into exhibits.

Steffi de Jong is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Cologne’s Institute for Contemporary History. She obtained her doctorate from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and has held positions at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin and Maastricht University. Her publications include articles in the International Handbook of Museum Studies and WerkstattGeschichte.

Subject: Museum Studies 20th Century History Media Studies


List of Illustrations
Notes on the Text


Chapter 1. The Witness to History: Conceptual Clarifications
Chapter 2. Genealogy: The Mediation of the Witness to History as a Carrier of Memory
Chapter 3. Collecting: Turning Communicative Memory into Cultural Memory
Chapter 4. Exhibiting: The Witness to History as a Museum Object
Chapter 5. Communicating: Witnesses to History as Didactic Tools



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