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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines the variety of ways that historians have engaged with material culture in their work over the last few decades. Although textual records from the archive remain privileged sources, the diversity of historiographical approach has led to a range of historiographical practices including a material turn. Two major approaches to objects have dominated. Dubbed ‘object driven’ and ‘object centred’, these variously use objects as evidence for a very wide range of research questions, and focus on past material cultures respectively. Focusing on a case study of Holocaust historiography, the essay identifies the challenges for contemporary archaeology generated by these two historiographical traditions, as well as by the self-reflectivity over narrating material pasts/past materialities that characterizes historical practice.

Keywords: historians, objects, archive, sources, Holocaust, self-reflectivity, narratives

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