Through Amateur Eyes is a single-authored book that marries archival research with theoretical and historical interpretation to put forward a study of the role of amateur documentary films and photographs in the memory and memorialization of World War II and the Holocaust. The images to be researched are taken by self-identified Nazis in Germany between 1926 and 1943. The project explores the images’ formation by and influence on forces that shaped the social structure and visual culture of the Nazi period: technological developments, cultural and social events, aesthetic trends. The project approaches this images from a unique perspective: it privileges their status as amateur films and photographs, and holds their status as products of self-identified Nazis in abeyance. Because many of the images are recycled in contemporary narratives that memorialize World War II, Through Amateur Eyes also analyses the recyclings as cues to contemporary beliefs and practices of cultural memory. The re-presentation of archival images is found in museum and gallery exhibitions, television documentaries, magazines, documentary films, and the World Wide Web. The recyclings are found in mainstream and alternative media since 1995 in Western Europe and North America. The approach to the amateur image as a site of European culture from a simultaneously German and Anglo-American perspective guarantees the project’s intervention in the urgent ongoing debates about the events that took place, their visual representation and how to continue to remember them today. The project will be the first of its kind, setting new standards for the writing of history through images, and introducing new methodologies to the study of film and photography as historical documents. Ultimately, it’s methodology and findings will impact on the future conception of European self-identity, particularly, when it is based on the memory of the key events of World War II.
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