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Museums and Collections
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The Witness as Object
Video Testimony in Memorial Museums
Steffi de Jong
Full Text Made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from Knowledge Unlatched.
280 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-643-0 $149.00/£110.00 Hb Published (January 2018)
ISBN 978-1-78920-536-7 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (November 2019)
“De Jong’s study is enriching and stimulating. Her strength lies in categorizing, in reflection, and taking the debate about contemporary witnesses to a new level. Whoever wants to learn about the role of eye witnesses in the Memorial Museum will not be able to ignore this study.” • H-Soz-Kult
“In The Witness as Object, Steffi de Jong adds an important layer to [current] discussions by offering a comparative perspective on video testimonies as museum objects that are part of a broader, ideological narrative…Although the focus of her work is on memorial museums…this research has implications for the analysis of many other museum types that utilize video testimonies in their dramaturgy…Navigating a vast array of theoretical literature…de Jong is able to offer a nuanced discussion of the ethical and theoretical dilemmas inherent in the use of video testimonies.” • Reading Religion
“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
The Witness as Object by Steffi de Jong is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) with support from Knowledge Unlatched.
OA ISBN: 978-1-78533-644-7
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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