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Critical Digital Cartography of Traumatic Places in Europe

Project leader:
Leo Dressel

3 years
extended until 31.8.2026

Funded by:
Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)

led by Leo Dressel, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Duration: 1.12.2022 – 31.8.2026

Places of remembrance of Nazi terror in Europe are often represented with digital geomedia such as multimedia maps, augmented reality apps, or audio walks. The dissertation examines how geomedia co-constitute real places or proximity-distance relations to the place and how they are interwoven into different national and international discourses. Geomedia are thereby seen as part of a Foucaultian “dispositiv”, that is, an ensemble of discursive practices. Within the framework of a “Dispositivanalyse” according to Siegfried Jäger, various discourses will be examined as elements within the “dispositiv” in addition to the geomedia themselves. Among other things, qualitative expert interviews with producers of geomedia for places of remembrance will be conducted. Research will be conducted in four European countries: Germany, France, Austria, Poland. In the sense of a microhistory, individual places were selected where geomedia represent central memory media. The places are in Germany the Dachau concentration camp memorial with the Art-App, in France the city of Paris with the project Les parisiens racontent la shoah, in Austria the memorial on the grounds of the former concentration camp Gusen with the virtual guide of the concentration camp memorial and the Audioweg Gusen, and in Poland the city of Oświęcim with the app project Oshpitzin and the virtual panorama tour of the museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. The aim of the work is to reveal the functioning of the “dispositiv” in which places of remembrance and their digital representations are integrated, to offer constructive criticism of it, and to elaborate proposals for a critical cartography, or critical digital geo-representation.

Keywords: critical cartography – digital geomedia – memory culture – traumatic places – dispositiv