In Time of Place investigates selected symbolic sites associated with Jewish identity, the diaspora and the Holocaust. The project focuses on the creation of four practice-as-research films made in Dachau, Venice, Prague and Boston, and a series of publications. The films, each 30 minutes in length, adopt an experimental observational approach to consider the stature and significance of place, its layering, reinvention and interpretation. The weight of history, the role of public memory and the act of memorialization are repositioned in the films through documenting both private and public engagement with the diverse urban environments. Archival imagery is not used, underscoring the intent that the films are about the present, as informed by the past.

The selection of sites for study and filming is guided by the fact that Venice is the site of a ghetto, where the term originated; Prague retains Europe's oldest synagogue and Jewish cemetery; Dachau was the first Nazi state concentration camp, where the first prisoners to be executed were Jews; and Boston offers one of the most recent Holocaust memorial sites.

All four films consider witnessing and the symbolic meaning of place in association with loss, absence, renewal and the prominence of tourism. The project also evaluates the way our digital culture influences how we interact with historic sites and use the camera to witness and situate our involvement. Most of the public who interact with the sites today were not first hand witnesses nor alive at the time of the Shoah. As such, the films engage with perceptions and debates on collective memory, cultural memory, and post-memory.1

In Time of Place engages with the fields of Cultural History, Film and Visual Culture, Jewish Studies, Holocaust Studies, Memory Studies, Urban Studies and Visual Anthropology. The principal investigator on the project is Dr. Alan Marcus, Reader in Film and Visual Culture and Head of Department at the University of Aberdeen. The project has received initial funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the University of Aberdeen’s College of Arts and Social Sciences and the School of Language and Literature.

[1] See for example: Crouch, D and N Lübbren (2003) Visual Culture and Tourism, Oxford, Berg; Davies, M (2007) Absence and Loss, London, David Paul; Halbwachs, M (1992) On Collective Memory, Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press; Hirsch, M (1997) Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory, Cambridge, Harvard Univ. Press; Hornstein, S and F Jacobowitz (2003) Image and Remembrance, Bloomington, Indiana Univ. Press; Novick, P (2000) The Holocaust in American Life, Boston, Houghton Mifflin; Young, J (1993) The Texture of Memory, New Haven, Yale Univ. Press; Young, J (1994) The Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History, New York, Prestel; Young, J (2000) At Memory's Edge, New Haven, Yale Univ. Press; Zelizer, B (2001) Visual Culture and the Holocaust, New Brunswick, Rutgers Univ Press.