The Currency Value of the Holocaust and the Dynamics of ‘Zombie Memory’: Toward a Reconceptualization of Contemporary Holocaust Remembrance

Tracy Adams, Shmuel Lederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we reconceptualize how contemporary Holocaust memory functions through the metaphors of common currency and ‘zombie memory.’ As currency, Holocaust memory is a medium of exchange that is perceived as a commodity produced to satisfy political wants or needs. For the most part, however, Holocaust memory lays dormant until triggered into life by specific events with particular characteristics that associate in the popular imaginary with the Holocaust–a mode of operation we call ‘zombie memory.’ We illustrate this dynamic of Holocaust memory by analyzing how the Holocaust has been referred to and discussed in light of current developments such as COVID-19, the rise of VOX in Spain, and political discourse in England about past and present mass atrocities. We demonstrate how the Holocaust is evoked in discursive occasions beyond those commemorative moments wherein it is by definition the focus of attention: how it is analogically utilized to express concerns, to push towards a specific policy goal, or to politically criticize others. As such, we underline how Holocaust memory can be converted within and between cultures, contributing to understanding and justification of domestic political actions. Situated in Holocaust studies, memory studies, and public discourse analysis, this research attests to the ongoing social process of negotiation over meaning-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-153
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Holocaust Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Weiss-Livnat International Center for Holocaust Research and Education at the University of Haifa.


  • COVID-19
  • Holocaust memory
  • VOX
  • currency
  • genocide
  • immigration
  • zombie memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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