NEH Colloquium

Incarceration, Transformation & Paths to Liberation during the Holocaust and Beyond

The KHC has served as a national demonstration site for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) since 2011. This recognition showcases the KHC as a cultural center that provides programs and offerings which positively impact QCC’s humanities curriculum and shares that information on a national level. For more information, click here.

What does it mean to be transformed? In what ways does internment or incarceration alter a person, and how does liberation and freedom exist within larger systems of mass incarceration? Who gets to decide whether we are insiders or outsiders, and how does our perspective shift as a result? Is it possible to experience freedom when others are oppressed, and what does freedom look like? The 2021-22 KHC-NEH Colloquium entitled, Incarceration, Transformation & Paths to Liberation during the Holocaust and Beyond, includes events that seek to understand the Holocaust and different forms of mass confinement through the lens of transformation, whether from interned to liberated or victim to survivor. We investigate the gradual and subtle processes of liberty and loss, the processes that constitute transformation from the state of incarceration to one of liberation or freedom, and the civic and pedagogical implications resulting from such an inquiry. Organized in dialogue with contemporary issues, the series is aligned with the current KHC exhibit, The Concentration Camps: Inside the Nazi System of Incarceration and Genocide.

Spring 2022 NEH Virtual Events

All events are free and open to the public but registration is required.
They are also being recorded so be sure to check back for the viewing links.

KHC-NEH Lecture
The Nazi Camp Universe, 1933-1945: Landscapes of Suffering and Paths of Persecution
Recorded on February 9, 2022
Click here to watch the recorded event

Join Dr. Alexandra Lohse for a brief overview of the Nazi concentration camp universe consisting of more than 40,000 sites operated by the Nazi regime and its allies, an almost incomprehensible number that challenges our understanding of the nature, ubiquity, and visibility of Nazi persecution. Using perpetrator documentation as well as survivor and eyewitness testimonies and memoirs, her talk illuminates the dynamic nature and function of some of these sites while illustrating paths of persecution that many victims suffered there between 1933 and 1945. Dr. Lohse is the Applied Research Scholar Team Lead at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

KHC-NEH Lecture
Cultural Landscapes of Confinement: Strengthening Vulnerable Refugee Communities at the Syrian-Turkish Border
Recorded on February 23, 2022
Click here to watch the recorded event

Composers Sahba Aminikia and Aleksandra Vrebalov speak of their involvement with the Flying Carpet Children’s Festival, an annual arts festival, founded and directed by Aminikia, that takes place each summer along the Syrian-Turkish border. In an environment of intense stress where youth face a magnitude of challenges, Aminikia, Vrebalov, and an international team of volunteer artists work together to bring inclusive, safe, and engaging educational and cultural activities that aid in directing expressions of trauma and in navigating the perils of a transitional state of belonging. The result is an empowering humanistic exchange marked by collective transformations.

This event is co-sponsored by the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) and Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC) at Queensborough Community College. 

KHC-NEH Lecture
Gendered Aspects of LGBTQIA+ Experiences During the Holocaust
Recorded on March 16, 2022
Click here to watch the recorded event

Join Dr. Danny Sexton, Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College, and Dr. Jake Newsome, a public historian of the LGBTQIA+ Past and author of Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust (Cornell University Press, forthcoming) for a conversation about the different gendered experiences of gay men, lesbians, and trans people in the period preceding the World War II, the Holocaust, and the years that followed. Dr. Sexton and Dr. Newsome also discuss how gender and sexual orientation influenced the Nazis’ policies, including how each community encountered incarceration and liberation.

KHC-NEH Performance
​From Slavery to Revolution: Afro-Cuban Folkloric Drumming of Matanzas 
Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 12pm EST
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The city of Matanzas remains an important hub of Afro-Cuban culture where drumming traditions that arrived with Africans who were forcibly brought to the island in the 19th century are still practiced today. This drumming tradition has survived urban slavery during which Africans were incarcerated in the lowest, flood-prone parts of the bay. It continued to be performed in secret through colonial and pre-revolution history, and only in the last 40 years has this drumming been performed in the open without the persecution of policing and prejudice. Featuring performances by the Queensborough Community College (QCC) Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Neeraj Mehta, Associate Professor of Music at QCC, this program will contextualize selected works from this repertoire to explore and illustrate the impact that the urban slavery experience and subsequent liberation had on the way this music has been practiced and performed.

This event is co-sponsored by the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC) and Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC) at Queensborough Community College. 

Fall 2021 NEH Virtual Events

Faculty Workshop
Holocaust Education and Transformational Learning
Recorded on September 22, 2021
Click here to watch the recorded event

This workshop explores how Holocaust education can be a catalyst for transformative learning in higher education. Using her research into the behavior of perpetrators and bystanders as a case study, Dr. Azadeh Aalai, Associate Professor of Psychology at Queensborough Community College at the City University of New York, discusses how faculty can design curricula that navigates these difficult histories in an impactful way. This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Queensborough Community College.

Criminalization and the Other

Recorded on October 27, 2021
Click here to watch the recorded event

The contemporary criminal justice system has historical connections to the criminalization of people who are culturally deemed the “other.” Join Dr. Celia Sporer, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Queensborough Community College at the City University of New York, for a discussion about the institutionalization of criminality based on social identity. Dr. Sporer will examine the process and implications of the criminalization of Jewishness in Nazi Germany, as well as reflect upon on the marginalization/exclusion of other groups resulting in their criminalization during different time periods and places.

Unheard Melodies
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 at 12:00pm EST
Click here to watch the recorded event

Renana Gutman, concert pianist and piano faculty at Longy School of Music of Bard College, introduces and performs obscure piano music (including some new discoveries) by great composers whose Jewish identity sealed their fate as musicians and human beings in the period surrounding the two world wars. The imaginative and expressive musical soundscapes of these works, many of which were composed in confinement, follow their composers’ personal and creative transformations while bearing witness to the turbulence and trauma of their time. 

2021-22 Faculty Fellows

The Center welcomes the 2021-22 KHC Faculty Fellows who each led past colloquia and are joining together to create a provocative series of timely and thought provoking programming.