Revisiting Modernity and the Holocaust : Heritage, Dilemmas, Extensions book cover
1st Edition

Revisiting Modernity and the Holocaust
Heritage, Dilemmas, Extensions

ISBN 9780367637545
Published April 18, 2022 by Routledge
264 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Zygmunt Bauman’s Modernity and the Holocaust is a decisive text of intellectual reflection after Auschwitz, in which Bauman rejected the idea that the Holocaust represented the polar opposite of modernity and saw it instead as its dark potentiality. Bringing together leading scholars from across disciplines, this volume offers the first set of focused and critical commentaries on this classic work of social theory, evaluating its ongoing contribution to scholarship in the social sciences and humanities. Addressing the core messages of Modernity and the Holocaust that continue to sound amidst the convulsions of the present, the chapters situate Bauman’s volume in the social, cultural and academic context of its genesis, and considers its role in the complex processes of Holocaust memorialisation. Offering extensions of Bauman’s thesis to lesser-known and undertheorised events of mass violence, and also considering the significance of Janina Bauman’s writings in their own right, this volume will appeal to scholars of sociology, intellectual history, Holocaust and genocide studies, moral philosophy, memory studies and cultural theory.

Table of Contents

Editors’ introduction: through the window again: revisiting Modernity and the Holocaust

Jack Palmer and Dariusz Brzeziński

PART 1: Sociology after Modernity and the Holocaust

1. Modernity or decivilisation? Reflections on Modernity and the Holocaust Today

Larry Ray

2. The sociology of modernity, the ethnography of the Holocaust: what Zygmunt Bauman knew

Joanna Tokarska-Bakir

PART 2: Rationality, obedience, agency

3. From understanding victims to victims’ understanding: rationality, shame and other emotions in Modernity and the Holocaust

Dominic Williams

4. Warsaw Jews in the face of the Holocaust: ‘trajectory’ as the key concept in understanding victims’ behaviour

Maria Ferenc

5. Visual representations of modernity in documents from the Łódź Ghetto

Paweł Michna

PART 3: Extensions and Reevaluations

6. Reassessing Modernity and the Holocaust in the light of genocide in Bosnia

Arne Johan Vetlesen

7. The Rwandan Genocide and the Multiplicity of Modernity

Jack Palmer

PART 4: ‘That world that was not his’ – on Janina Bauman

8. Janina Bauman: to remain human in inhuman conditions

Lydia Bauman

9. Janina and Zygmunt Bauman: a case study of inspiring collaboration

Izabela Wagner

10. Reading Modernity and the Holocaust with and against Winter in the Morning

Griselda Pollock

PART 5: The legacies of Modernity and the Holocaust

11. Bauman, the Frankfurt School, and the tradition of enlightened catastrophism

Jonathon Catlin

12. Modernity and the Holocaust and the concentrationary universe

Max Silverman

Off-the-scene: an afterword

Bryan Cheyette

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Jack Palmer is Research Fellow in the School of Sociology and Social Policy and Deputy Director of the Bauman Institute at the University of Leeds, UK. He is the author of Entanglements of Modernity, Colonialism and Genocide.

Dariusz Brzezinski is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theoretical Sociology at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He is the author of Zygmunt Bauman and the Theory of Culture.


‘Revisiting Modernity and the Holocaust is an essential and timely contribution both to contemporary debates and to the understanding of the development of Bauman’s thinking. Now, five years after his death, and in a context where there is growing critical appraisal of his work (as well as recent antisemitic attacks against him in Poland) these essays offer new and fascinating ways to look back at a key moment in Bauman’s intellectual trajectory.’Janet Wolff, University of Manchester, UK