1st Edition

Revisiting Modernity and the Holocaust Heritage, Dilemmas, Extensions

Edited By Jack Palmer, Dariusz Brzeziński Copyright 2022
    264 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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


    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 Brzeziński 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

    'Revisiting Modernity and the Holocaust is an essential contribution both to contemporary debates on the Holocaust and to the understanding of Bauman’s thinking.'Anca Bălan, Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări

    'The book is not an uncritical celebration of Bauman as a major European social thinker or an uncritical celebration of Modernity and the Holocaust as a masterpiece and his crowning achievement. The chapters in the book give the reader detailed, informed and often critical evaluation of Bauman’s work on the Holocaust including regarding the motivation of perpetrators and victims, the role of the Judenräte and the Sonderkommandos and their ‘co-operation’, their agency, proximity and face to face cruelty particularly against women.'Shaun Best, Sociology

    'With a new potentially genocidal war at the centre of Europe, Zygmunt Bauman’s warnings in Modernity and the Holocaust that this could happen again are chillingly borne out.' William Outhwaite, Studia Litteraria et Historica 

    'A useful measure of the state of affairs with reference to Modernity and the Holocaust today is offered by Jack Palmer and Dariusz Brzeziński’s new volume. (…) It is a□volume that will become a standard reference in itself.' – Peter Beilharz, Studia Litteraria et Historica