photo: heroes of the anti-colonial resistance, Algiers

Documenting Mass Violence

Recording, Description, Dissemination
Fall 2007
Instructor: Dr. Erica Lehrer


Course Description

Writers, filmmakers, and other intellectuals have been trying, for more than a half-century since the end of World War II, to find ways to describe the destruction of the European Jews. Why is this project so vexed? Do similar difficulties arise in documenting other cases of mass violence in history? How, where, and when is violence documented—both publicly and privately? What motivates such documentation, and what are its goals? How do we get at the “experience” or the “truth” of violence and the suffering it produces? Whose versions of events are amassed and disseminated, and in what ways? How close can representations of violent events bring those who did not experience them? What are the structural (social, cultural, psychological, material) conditions of remembering and forgetting?

Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence