Geographies of the Holocaust

We are in the preparatory stages for a new edition of the Dictionary of Human Geography, which I’m co-editing this time with Clive Barnett, Jeremy Crampton, Diana DavisGeraldine Pratt, Joanne Sharp and Henry Yeung.  At the moment, we are making devilishly difficult decisions over headwords (which to cut, which to add) and lengths (which to shorten, which to increase).  Of course, none of this is set in stone, and new entries always press themselves forward as the submission deadline draws near.  Sometimes they are words you wonder why they weren’t included in the first place.

One such, last time round, was ‘Holocaust’: a glaring omission from previous editions, I belatedly realised.  There was, after all, a considerable body of geographical work on it, some of it by geographers, which I did my best to incorporate in the entry I wrote in short order for the last edition.  In truth, I suspect I noticed the omission through my interest in Giorgio Agamben‘s Homo sacer and Remnants of Auschwitz; thinking about the geographies of the Holocaust made me realise that the space of the exception, however defined, was not limited by the barbed perimeter of the camp but extended out along the railway tracks to the ghettoes, the round-ups and a host of capillary and diminishing exceptions (see my discussion here).  This in turn makes the spatiality of the exception of constitutive significance.


This time round, the intellectual task ought to be made easier by a new book edited by Anne Kelly Knowles, Tim Cole and Alberto Giordano, Geographies of the Holocaust, due from Indiana University Press in their Spatial Humanities series the middle of next month:

This book explores the geographies of the Holocaust at every scale of human experience, from the European continent to the experiences of individual human bodies. Built on six innovative case studies, it brings together historians and geographers to interrogate the places and spaces of the genocide. The cases encompass the landscapes of particular places (the killing zones in the East, deportations from sites in Italy, the camps of Auschwitz, the ghettos of Budapest) and the intimate spaces of bodies on evacuation marches. Geographies of the Holocaust puts forward models and a research agenda for different ways of visualizing and thinking about the Holocaust by examining the spaces and places where it was enacted and experienced.

1. Geographies of the Holocaust / Alberto Giordano, Anne Kelly Knowles, and Tim Cole
2. Mapping the SS Concentration Camps / Anne Kelly Knowles and Paul B. Jaskot, with Benjamin Perry Blackshear, Michael De Groot, and Alexander Yule
3. Retracing the “Hunt for Jews”: A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Arrests during the Holocaust in Italy / Alberto Giordano and Anna Holian
4. Killing on the Ground and in the Mind: The Spatialities of Genocide in the East / Waitman W. Beorn, with Anne Kelly Knowles
5. Bringing the Ghetto to the Jew: The Shifting Geography of the Budapest Ghetto / Tim Cole and Alberto Giordano
6. Visualizing the Archive: Building at Auschwitz as a Geographic Problem / Paul B. Jaskot, Anne Kelly Knowles, and Chester Harvey, with Benjamin Perry Blackshear
7. From the Camp to the Road: Representing the Evacuations from Auschwitz, January 1945 / Simone Gigliotti, Marc J. Masurovsky, and Erik Steiner
8. Afterword / Paul B. Jaskot and Tim Cole

Tim Cole is the author of a series of outstanding geographical studies of the Holocaust, including Holocaust City on Budapest; he’s now Professor of Social History at Bristol, but his PhD in Geography at Cambridge was started under the supervision of Graham Smith, one of my dearest friends, who tragically died before the thesis was completed.

Here’s another old Cambridge friend Geoff Eley on the present collaborative project: ‘As a pioneering call to extend our familiar approaches, Geographies of the Holocaust offers a welcome model of collaborative interdisciplinarity — between historians and geographers, humanities and the social sciences, distinguished specialists and scholars from the outside. The desired purposes are admirably served. Thinking with space delivers not only a new range of challenging methodologies, but brings the well-established findings of the field under strikingly new perspectives too.’

One thought on “Geographies of the Holocaust

  1. Pingback: Dictionary of Human Geography–new edition | Open Geography

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