Smiling in Auschwitz: Instagram Selfies and Historical Representation at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

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Abstract

This chapter shows how ‘selfies’ taken at Auschwitz-Birkenau make the past meaningful through the use of different semiotic modes available on Instagram. It argues that social media platforms are semiotic systems based on user interaction and states that ‘Holocaust selfies’ should not be read as static representations of historical memory, but as expressions of ‘ludic identity’. As social media platforms are playing fields in which different representations of the self are mobilized and posited dynamically, conventional maxims of communication and (historical) representation – such as truth and clarity – are often postponed. This could be interpreted as deficient mode of historical representation; however, the analysis shows that the majority of ‘Auschwitz selfies’ represent or challenge acts of remembrance, rather than the historical events. It is the confusion of these two relationships that brings critics to dismiss the value of selfies altogether, whereas the acknowledgment opens up chances for reflection on the possibilities and limits of representing and understanding the Holocaust on social media.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Image, History and Memory
Subtitle of host publicationCentral and Eastern Europe in a Comparative Perspective
EditorsMichał Haake, Piotr Juszkiewicz
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter9
Pages105-120
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-26446-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-032-20624-0, 978-1-032-20625-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2022

Publication series

SeriesEuropean Remembrance and Solidarity

Research programs

  • ESHCC HIS

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