How can we “see” a visual archive of genocide? What are the possibilities –and limits—of testimonial narratives and oral histories as they circulate visually? Is there a possibility for a counter-narrative that tells us something new, on the one hand, and disrupts hegemonic representations of the Holocaust, on the other?
This paper is part of a larger project that is attempting to excavate a longue-duree Romani history of the city. In it, I will focus on Romani women’s testimony found in the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education to explore that which is often left untold in what Walter Benjamin has described as the “rubble-heap” that lies at the feet of the “Angel of History.” Through an attention to testimony and the witness’s refusals, disputes, contention with interviewers expectations and questions, how do we –as viewers, and perhaps consumers, of testimony— take up the claims, the quest for recognition and the potential for disruption of our accepted understandings that are the challenges of the production and circulation of testimony?