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Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0002-9967-1562

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

History

Year Degree Awarded

2019

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Jon Berndt Olsen

Second Advisor

Andrew Donson

Third Advisor

Jennifer V. Evans

Fourth Advisor

James E. Young

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | European History | Film and Media Studies | History | Holocaust and Genocide Studies | Photography | Public History

Abstract

This study examines the representation of Holocaust memory through photographs on the social media platforms of Flickr and Instagram. It looks at how visitors – armed with digital cameras and smartphones – depicted their experiences at the former concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and Neuengamme. The study’s arguments are twofold: firstly, social media posts about visits to former concentration camps are a form of Holocaust memory, and secondly, social media allows people from all backgrounds the opportunity to share their memories online. Holocaust memory on social media introduces a new, digital kind of memory called “filtered memory.”

This study demonstrates that social media was a form of memory. The photo-based platforms of Flickr and Instagram helped better visualize it: the photographs on these sites were literally and figuratively “filtered.” Users had the ability to select a black and white filter, or ones that lightened or darkened the photographs. Digital cameras and smartphones allowed users to take as many photos as they liked and upload the photo(s) they wished. Figuratively speaking, people chose to present certain parts of their visits on social media platforms. They filtered their experiences and chose the part of their story they wanted to tell.

Building from the varied fields of memory studies, history of the Holocaust, visual culture, dark tourism, and public history, this study demonstrates that social media is a digital archive that historians must consider when writing about historical memory in the twenty-first century.

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