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< All Fellows and Scholars

Dr. Brigitte Sion

Dr. Brigitte Sion
2008-2009 David and Fela Shapell Fellow

"Theatrical Performance in Nazi Camps"

Professional Background

Dr. Brigitte Sion is Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow of religious studies at New York University. She received a Ph.D. in performance studies from the same institution, an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, and an M.A. in romance languages from the University of Pennsylvania. She also received a Licence és Lettres in French and German from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. For her David and Fela Shapell Fellowship, Dr. Sion conducted research for her project on “Theatrical Performance in Nazi Camps.”

Dr. Sion is the author of Max Ehrlich: Le Théâtre contre la Barbarie [Max Ehrlich: Theater against Barbarism] (Metropolis, 2004), Death Tourism : Disaster Sites as Recreational Landscape (Seagull Press, 2013), Memorials in Berlin and Buenos Aires : Balancing Memory, Architecture, and Tourism (Lexington, 2014).  She has also published several book chapters and articles in scholarly journals, including multiple entries in The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World; “Affective Memory, Ineffective Functionality: Experiencing Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial” in Memorialisation in Germany Since 1945 (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2010); and “Anti-Semitic Letters to the Editor in Swiss Media and the Crisis over Holocaust-Era Dormant Accounts (1995-2002) in  Jewish Images in the Media (Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2007). Dr. Sion is the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including a Corrigan Doctoral Fellowship from New York University, a Dorot Foundation Travel Grant from the Association for Jewish Studies Conference, and a Paulette Goddard Stipend for academic achievement from New York University. She is fluent in French, German, and Spanish.

Fellowship Research

During her tenure at the Mandel Center, Dr. Sion studied theatrical performances by Jewish inmates in Nazi concentration camps. Her research revealed the conflicting intentions of the Jewish actors in relation to their Jewish audience and the Nazi camp administrators. She studied the interplay of entertainment and persecution, from resistance to perversity. Dr. Sion’s fellowship project was an expansion of her published biography of Max Ehrlich, a German-Jewish actor who continued acting while a prisoner at the Westerbork camp in the Netherlands. Dr. Sion utilized the Museum’s secondary sources and archival collections, focusing primarily on Nazi audio-visual material, survivor testimonies, and relevant German archives, to complete her research.

Dr. Sion was in residence at the Mandel Center from May 1 to July 30, 2009.