Precarious tension

A research on the role of the heritage professional in identifying and lessening tension that exists within the context of commemorating the Shoah and the slavery past.

In this postdoc project, Judy Jaffe-Schagen looks at two complex current heritage cases: the coping with the heritage of the Shoah and the slavery past. She will focus on the question how heritage professionals can play a mediating role in dealing with emotionally charged heritage. This is relevant because of the tension that these histories at present create in many social contexts: during Remembrance Day on May 4 and during the commemoration of Dutch slavery and the celebration of its abolition on July 1. But also, for example, in discussions about the restitution of colonial and looted art and about making political excuses. This tension can also arise in education, when (commemorating) the Shoah and the history of slavery are discussed.

In this research, the mutual use of word choices, artistic expressions and rituals within commemorative practices is mapped, based on case studies. Interviews are conducted to determine whether this is done consciously and how this is perceived by various parties involved. The research is based on the idea that the tension arises from a feeling of inequality in the struggle for a place in the Dutch memorial landscape. This is inseparable from the lack of recognition and acknowledgment of existing traumas, from the presence of anti-Semitism and racism in society, and from the existence of different repertoires of historical knowledge.

Judy Jaffe-Schagen
Judy Jaffe-Schagen is an independent historian based in Israel and The Netherlands, and a lecturer in the Masters in Applied Museum and Heritage Studies programme at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam. She has a background in social-economic history and has been a researcher at museums like the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, the Zaans Museum in Zaandam, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Her PhD research focused on the meaning of location on the relationship between people and objects and the role museums play in the formation of nation-states.

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