Museum-Cemetery: (Infra)Structural Violence Against Human Remains


  • Zuzanna Dziuban Institut für Kulturwissenschaften und Theatergeschichte, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften



Holocaust, memorials, museum-cemetery, human remains, necroviolence, infrastructural violence, abandonment


In this paper, I investigate Polish memorial sites and museums established at former Nazi extermination camps, defined by the presence of human remains of their Jewish victims, through a conceptual prism of museum-cemetery. Museum-cemetery is construed here as a concept (an analytic category), a practice, and a dynamic cultural/political space, extending to include the burial sites curated by the memorial institutions. In my reading, museum-cemetery is a transformative and politically productive infrastructure that instantiates a material and spatial articulation of hierarchies and social norms as well as one of structural violence, and a complex politics of dead bodies. Acknowledging that not only living bodies but also those of the dead are subject to sovereign power, through various social and material practices, I argue that museums and memorial sites partake in the production and undoing of the dead. But they are also carriers of necroviolence: violence against human remains. Analysing the post-war history of Polish sites of memory at former Nazi extermination camps and the practices and infrastructural transformations that arise around them – including robbery of the dead, archaeological research, work on commemoration, musealization – I discuss the forms of necroviolence that affect dead bodies, from immediate physical violence to violence of abandonment.





Dziuban, Z. (2023). Museum-Cemetery: (Infra)Structural Violence Against Human Remains. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften, 34(1), 184–208.



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