Promoting the Participation of Graduate Students, Educators and Practitioners
Taking place annually since 1994, the workshop has been organized by international groups of emerging scholars and practitioners for their contemporaries working on topics connected to the history and commemoration of the National Socialist camps.
Its primary focus on university graduates, Holocaust educators and emerging practitioners – organizers as well as speakers and participants – is what makes the workshop so unique. While a variety of seminars exists for PhD students only, there are rarely events giving other emerging researchers – like MA-candidates or experts working in museology or education – the chance to present their work and engage in the discourse of the field together.
The absence of professors or other university personnel is another unique aspect of the workshop; in the absence of academic hierarchies, discussions and lectures can take place in a welcoming and supportive academic atmosphere, without the pressures of self-presentation or competition.
Moreover, the participation of a diverse group of emerging experts and scholars in the field fosters not only a generative space wherein current academic debates unfold, but is demonstrative of the exciting new scholarship and pedagogy being produced on a global stage and the future of the field. The workshop aims at providing a dynamic space for academic discussion. Participants can ask questions, raise issues, and get feedback on their research and works-in-progress. Also, academic networking between the researchers shall be enabled. Beyond this, the workshop fosters an atmosphere geared towards building and maintaining broad academic networks.
Self-organization and Democratic Ethos
It is the workshop’s tradition that one can participate up to three times in three different roles or functions: as a speaker, participant or organizer. This basic democratic idea of organizing the workshop guarantees the chance to participate several times and to intensify the exchange between newcomers and more experienced participants of the workshop. In addition, this idea assures the continuity of the workshop, but also creates a worldwide network and supportive academic atmosphere.
This principle explains why there is no single institution hosting the workshop. Rather, the workshop’s partner changes each year depending on the theme and the site of the workshop. At the end of every workshop, the next organization-team is democratically elected. This ensures that all participants and speakers have a vote. It is at this same meeting where individuals can propose themes and possible locations for the next workshop. Together, the group selects the best proposals and hands over the planning process to the new organization team.
Interdisciplinary and Transnational Approaches
Two further particularities regarding the workshop are its interdisciplinary and international nature. On the one hand, the workshop is addressed to MA and PhD students, educators, and practitioners from different disciplines, such as history, sociology, psychology, literature, medicine, theology, arts history, etc. This multi-perspective approach creates both a more inclusive environment and one more reflective of the field at large, but also leads to a deeper comprehension of the phenomenon of the National Socialist camps, killing sites, and the Holocaust.
On the other hand, participants join the workshop from across the world. Through its politics of expansion, National Socialism was an international phenomenon belonging to the history and memory of a myriad of countries. Today, the Holocaust and the history of National Socialism is taught across the globe. As such, different national approaches complement each other which enables the scholarly transfer of these perspectives. As the field continues to expand, genuine international exchange becomes an even greater goal of the workshop. Since its inception, the workshop has created an impressive international research network, and we hope that each year we can continue to make a meaningful contribution to discourse on the history and memory of National Socialism, the Holocaust, and the sites we study.