Towards a spatial historiography of the Holocaust: resistance, film, and the prisoner uprising at Sobibor death camp

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Abstract

This paper aims to develop a historiography of the Holocaust based around the spatialities of organised resistance, through a geographical reading of two cinematic depictions of the 1943 prisoner uprising at Sobibor death camp: Escape From Sobibor (1987) and Sobibor, octobre 14 1943, 1600 heures (2001). These case studies are privileged in my reading on account of the capacity of filmmaking practices to provoke new directions in historical and geographical research. Specifically, I argue that in order to tell their stories of resistance, these films are forced to depict several aspects of camp spatiality – including spatial routines, disciplined mobility, heterogeneous social space, the mental maps of prisoners and perpetrators, work sites and networks of institutions – that are easily overlooked in narratives focussing solely on domination and killing in the camps. The filmmaking practices of these films therefore testify to a relation between organised resistance and camp spatiality that can be productive for ongoing efforts to write the geographies of the Holocaust. The paper also seeks to make a methodological intervention by demonstrating the value of moving Holocaust film criticism beyond its prevalent preoccupation with standards of verisimilitude.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Geography
Volume33
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • human geography
  • Holocaust studies
  • biopolitics
  • Sobibor death camp
  • camp studies
  • poststructuralism
  • resistance
  • film studies
  • spatial theory

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