U of I's 'Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies' Connects Past With Present

Dec 13, 2016

Professor Brett Kaplan
Credit U of I

An effort based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign connects the past and the present in order to better understand the global history of genocide. It's called the "Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies" initiative and brings together experts from a variety of fields who research "history, literature, memory, and artistic representation of genocide and trauma."

Brett Kaplan is the director of the initiative. She says the importance of memory studies is that in part, it helps one "... think about how it is that different people from different nations interconnect ... ways in which you can think about memory moving across time and space, in all kinds of different directions." The initiative has led to various projects, like a reading group and conferences on topics like the “Radical Right and Remembering in Recent Political History.'

In the interview Kaplan, who also heads the program in Jewish Culture and Society, also tells us her opinion on what she sees as a growing revitalization of white supremacy in the US. Regarding the election she says, "The choice of Trump is in fact a white supremacist choice." She says learning from the past about how racism and bigotry have been used to propagate fear and warfare is crucial, and is part of the reason why "... we as scholars try to make connections historically and across different nations."