International Conference "Comparative Lenses: Video Testimonies of Survivors and Eyewitnesses on Genocide and Mass Violence" June 6-7, 2019
Organized by the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention, Yahad-In Unum, the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, and the AGBU Nubar Library
Victim testimony as a source for the study of genocide and mass violence has been the subject of longstanding debate in the social sciences and humanities, especially among historians. This conference aims to deepen the discussion by inviting participants to present on three areas of focus:
1. video testimonies collected from the late 1970s up to the present-day
2. video testimonies of victims as well as eyewitnesses
3. video testimonies documenting the Holocaust and other mass atrocities
The history, philosophy, technical features, as well as the pedagogical and scientific uses of some of the most substantial collections of video testimonies of Holocaust survivors have already been explored. Such is the case for the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and the oral history collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and even more so for the Visual History Archive, whose testimonies on the Holocaust are now being increasingly searched and analyzed.
Since the 2000s new collections of video testimonies of Holocaust survivors have been created. Several video testimony projects have been undertaken outside the United States as well. The origin, methodology, goals, and potential uses of such new collections of video testimonies have yet to be explored.
Moreover, research and documentation that take into account not only the perspectives of victims but those of eyewitnesses to violence has expanded. Such scholarship has broadened our understanding of the crimes perpetrated in Eastern Europe during the Second World War. Nevertheless, few scholars have addressed the benefits and limits of conducting research on the video testimonies of witnesses to mass violence, such as the ones interviewed by Yahad-In Unum.