The Poetry of Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Towards a New Performative Social Science


  • Frances Rapport Swansea University



Auschwitz-Birkenau, Holocaust, new forms of representation, poetic representation


Performative Social Science provides the research scientist with a much needed platform to move beyond traditional approaches to data collection, analysis and the presentation of study findings towards a response to research questions that closely resonates with the raw materials at hand. For the Performative Social Scientist's voice to be heard, new ways must be found to consider how best to represent the social world, relaxing longstanding and rigid qualitative research frameworks in favour of more contemporary and flexible approaches to working that welcome inter-disciplinary practice. By re-defining the theoretical and paradigmatic boundaries of our studies we can then encourage others to consider a range of alternative positions from which to view the world. The paper embraces the potential such a platform offers by presenting one Holocaust survivor's lived experiences of these extraordinary events including internment in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Through a visual and textual journey that employs photographs and poetic representations derived from one "research conversation" with the survivor, a "photo-textual montage" aims to engender a more empathic response to survivor testimony. The paper also attempts a novel juxtaposition of images and words to present a richer understanding of the researcher's relationship with the survivor, the research process and research outputs. In effect, the paper maps aspects of the research process in "coming to know" the data in chronological, temporal and spatial frames whilst emphasising the importance of presentation style, format and layout. This paper makes visible what is often invisible in more traditional approaches—the researchers own personal journey and the insights that this affords. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802285


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Frances Rapport, Swansea University

Frances RAPPORT is a social scientist with a background in the Arts. She is Professor of Qualitative Health Research at the School of Medicine, Swansea University, UK, and Head of the Qualitative Research Unit. She holds the position of Honorary Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her research interests include: survivor stories and trauma, innovative methodological approaches to qualitative health research, and Assisted Reproductive Technology Medicine. Frances is currently exploring "within-method" and narrative approaches to understanding health professionals' reflections on inhabited workspace and Holocaust survivor stories. She is taking a six-month sabbatical at Harvard University to continue her work on Holocaust survivor narratives and trauma.




How to Cite

Rapport, F. (2008). The Poetry of Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Towards a New Performative Social Science. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2).