Online seminar. Hannah Wilson, “Objects and Testimony: The Material Memory of Sobibor Death Camp in Familial Spaces”

The first of this year’s Nottingham Trent University Oral History Network seminars is taking place online on Wednesday 27 October at 1 pm.

Hannah Wilson, PhD student at NTU, will be giving a paper entitled “Objects and Testimony: The Material Memory of Sobibor Death Camp in Familial Spaces”. See abstract and bio below.

If you would like to attend the seminar please register via the following link

Abstract: Material culture is arguably one of the most significant disciplines in shaping the future of Holocaust memory and museum studies, for which much scholarship exists. Yet, there is still much research to be done concerning the concept of home, internment and displacement in the memory of Holocaust survivors, and how personal objects or artefacts have influenced this. This presentation aims to address the increasing importance of object biographies within private, familial and localised spheres. The case studies presented here will investigate the ways in which materiality has helped to shape the narrative of the Holocaust experience and after, with a specific focus on the private and familial material memories concerning the victims of Sobibór Death Camp (Poland). Following either the death or relocation of these victims, I seek to emphasise the increasing importance of material culture within the ‘home’, where the transmission of memory and experience is often accessed through the presence of ‘testimonial objects’ (M. Hirsch, 2007) . Through semi-structured oral, qualitative interviews and personal visitation, I analyse the relevance of these items for the following generations, and how this has affected their own individual understanding and perception of Sobibór, as part of their own personal narrative. Although the Sobibór survivors left Poland with few valuables or belongings following their experiences during the Holocaust, certain mementos were recovered or carried with them throughout their post-war movements, taking presence and a ‘resting place’ within their new private and familial spaces. In my research, then, I investigate how these objects have affected different generations within the family, including those who have inherited such artefacts after their parent or grandparent passed.

Biography: Hannah Wilson, MA is a graduate of the Weiss-Livnat International MA program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa. In 2016, she was awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to begin her PhD research at the Department of History, Nottingham Trent University. From 2014 to the present, she has participated as a research student at the archaeological excavations at Sobibórand Treblinka Death Camps. She is currently working with the Imperial War Museum London to help develop their new Holocaust Galleries, and received a research grant from the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah.


27 Oct 2021


1:00 pm

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