By its very nature, historical narrative that is rooted exclusively in textual sources is destined to be more linear, more univocal, and less equipped to deal with the problematic. On the other hand, due to its unique abilities and approaches, historical archaeology thrives on the tensions inherent to any attempt to understand past and present experience. In this article I negotiate between two approaches to studying the concentration camps of the Third Reich—one canonical the other experimental. It is suggested that when studying the camps, we are faced with a series of tensions: between past and present, between remembering and forgetting, and between live human actors and the material record. This article explores two research paradigms: first, the traditional text-centric historical approach, and second, an approach that might be called ‘historical archaeological’. I embrace the inherent tensions between the two approaches, and put forward some innovative ways for coming to terms with these places of internment.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/adrianmyers/2/