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Professor contributes to Holocaust Geographies project

March 01, 2011

ASU's Anna Holian worked with a group of historians, art historians, geographers and historical geographers as part of a 2-week Summer Research Workshop on Geographies of the Holocaust in August 2007 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

The workshop’s objectives were to determine the potential benefits of applying geographic methods, such as spatial analysis and visualization, to the study of the Holocaust and to determine the extent to which debates in human and cultural geography about “placing the past” (knowledge of the past as temporal as well as cartographic) could be applied to the Holocaust. The workshop generated the precursors of the projects displayed on this website and demonstrated both the profound geographical nature of the Holocaust and the need for scholars to include such methodologies in their research.

ASU history professor Holian's sub-project is titled "The Holocaust in Italy." Along with Alberto Giordano, Holian examines the Holocaust in Italy from a geographical perspective, uncovering local and regional patterns as well as the temporal dimensions of the deportation process. They examine the spatial dimensions of the Holocaust from the perspective of both victims and perpetrators.

Based on the success of the workshop, the participants obtained funding from the United States National Science Foundation to continue the effort. The project, Holocaust Geographies, was conducted between August 2008 and August 2010. The principal objective of the study was to further develop the sub-projects originally instigated during the workshop in order to explore the varying scales of the Holocaust’s locations of incarceration and experience.

The geographic analysis of the distributions of people, places and events allowed the researchers to uncover the spatial logic of the Holocaust, shedding new light on the relationships, networks and connections that often are obscured in the historical record and showing that geographical methods of inquiry were particularly suited to the analysis of the spatial dimensions of the Holocaust’s perpetration, witness and experience. The project already has produced a number of scholarly articles and will culminate in the publication of a volume.

The principal investigators on the National Science Foundation grant were Anne Kelly Knowles (Middlebury College, VT) and Alberto Giordano (Texas State University, San Marcos). The members of the team included: Waitman Beorn (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Tim Cole (University of Bristol, UK), Simone Gigliotti (Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand), Anna Holian (Arizona State University, Phoenix), Paul B. Jaskot (DePaul University, Chicago, IL), and Erik Steiner (Stanford University, CA).