2020 Holocaust Memorial Lecture

National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Alabama. Photo by DiAnna Paulk/Shutterstock

5 pm | Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Virtual Roundtable

Legacies of Violence and Genocide:
Can Memorials and Museums Help Us Build a Better Future?


Can memory prevent injustice and violence? Panelists of this virtual roundtable will discuss the role of museums and memorials in building the bridge between history, understanding, empathy, and action. In recent years, questions about the representation of history in public spaces have become more pressing than ever. The legacies of the Holocaust, colonial violence, and racist exploitation are at the center of resulting debates and actions that range from redesigning commemorative and exhibition spaces to toppling monuments. Can museums and memorials fulfill the tasks of remembrance, reconciliation, and prevention that genocidal and other instances of mass violence pose? The roundtable takes the history of the Holocaust as a starting point for a conversation on the capacity of public portrayals of complex histories of violence to shape a more just future.



Avril Alba, Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer in Holocaust Studies and Jewish Civilization in the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney. She teaches and researches in the areas of Holocaust and modern Jewish history with a focus on Jewish and Holocaust museums. As a curator, Alba is especially interested in how to make plain the intersections between Australia’s colonial history and the Holocaust, and how to bring the commemoration of the Holocaust and other forms of genocidal violence to bear on emerging forms of indigenous memorialization in Australia.

Zahava D. Doering, PhD., is Editor Emerita of Curator: The Museum Journal and was Senior Social Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., where she focused, in research and practice, on the experience of people who visit museums. She currently works for Thinc Design, Inc., New York, in museum and exhibition development. Doering’s recent work promotes a radical reframing and reconstitution of curatorial agendas and museums that support human-centeredness and the societal changes demanded by the racial reckoning that US society is facing.

David Cunningham, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of racial contention, with an emphasis on the scope and legacy of organized white supremacist action. In an ongoing research project, Cunningham examines the recent wave of conflicts around Confederate monuments and other sites of contested memory.


Erin McGlothlin, Ph.D., is Chair of Germanic Languages and Literatures and Professor of German and Jewish Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her main research interests are in the areas of Holocaust literature and film and German-Jewish literature. McGlothlin has published widely on problems of remembering and representing victim experiences and perpetrator subjectivity.



Questions? Please contact the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Lecture Committee, Prof. Anika Walke, at <a.walke[at]wustl.edu>.