The Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College celebrated the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a presentation by KSC professor Dr. Jamie Landau this past Thursday, Jan. 26 in the Alumni Center’s Centennial Hall. The talk was open to the public and commemorated the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in 1925 by the Soviet military.
In November of 2005, the United Nations designated Jan. 27 as an international holiday to remember the six million Jewish people and other social groups who were murdered during the Holocaust. The holiday serves as an opportunity to consider human rights issues in society.
Dr. Jamie Landau, associate professor of communication and philosophy/faculty enrichment, will assume the role as Coordinator of Faculty Enrichment when she returns from sabbatical in July 2017.
Director of The Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Dr. Hank Knight briefly spoke regarding the importance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day prior to Dr. Landau’s talk. Dr. Knight described the event as an “anticipation of a day- International Holocaust Day for solidarity with people from around the globe.”
Dr. Landau’s presentation was based on the book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot. An African American tobacco farmer in the 1950s, Lacks was the unwitting donor of cells that helped to develop the polio vaccine, cloning and many other medical advances.
While her cells were sold for billions, neither Lacks nor her family was compensated for her contribution. Dr. Landau utilized Lack’s experience to explain her thesis of eliminating dehumanization with rehumanization.
In her talk, Dr. Landau outlined the concept of rehumanization as two main elements: personification and networks of social affiliation to bring awareness to societal prejudice. Dr. Landau also drew from the work of the classical philosophers Plato and Aristotle for their theories on emotion versus reason and pathos.
The presentation was concluded with the lighting of a candle to bring light to times of shame and prejudice around the world. Dr. Landau and Nate Wolf, a Holocaust and genocide studies major at Keene State, shared the lighting of the candle.
Sam Whitaker, a junior at Keene State College, said that the talk “provided really good information. I was not familiar with rehumanization.”
Mariah Palmer, a first-year at Keene State College, remarked that the “presentation was interesting, a positive intake on a negative situation. It’s important to set a theoretical solution since people like to think negatively.”
Frank Meninno, also a first-year at Keene State College, said “I thought there was a lot of good information and things to consider in the future.”
Ethan Chalmers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org