In August 2007, a group of nine historians, art historians, geographers, and historical geographers participated in the two-week Summer Research Workshop on Geographies of the Holocaust 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
- The extent to which debates in human and cultural geography about “placing the past” (i.e., 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.
Based on the success of the workshop, the participants obtained funding from the United States National Science Foundation (NSF Grant No. 0820487) to continue the effort. The project, Holocaust Historical GIS, was conducted between August 2008 and March 2011. 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 are often 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 has already 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, United Kingdom), Simone Gigliotti (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Anna Holian (Arizona State University, Phoenix), Paul B. Jaskot (DePaul University, Chicago, IL), and Erik Steiner (Stanford University, CA).