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Dr. Steffi de Jong




Historisches Institut

Neuere Geschichte


50923 Köln

Philosophikum, Room 3.113

Tel.: +49 0221 470 1194


Research Interests

The history of re-enactment with a focus on performative, immersive and authenticating practices for transmitting and appropriating history at tableaux vivants and court feasts, artists' feasts, historical processions, historicist theatre and archaeological experiments in the 19th century

The history of the senses with a focus on sound in museums 

New media and memory with a focus on the digital memory of the Holocaust 

The figure of the witness to history between cultural and communicative memory, public history and oral history 


Current Research Projects

Performed Historicism. Practices of Re-enactment in the 19th century

Funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung 

November 2020 - November 2022

To represent historical personalities, events and epochs was popular in the 19th century. Tableaux vivants reproduced historical artworks, statues or historical events. During historical processions, amateur actors mimed their ancestors. The guests at artists’ festivals enjoyed themselves in historical costumes. A realist historicist theatre brought accurately researched costumes and set designs to the stage. At the end of the century, pioneers of experimental archaeology tried to generate historical knowledge by reproducing past practices. In other words: practices and criteria for what we today call re-enactments have their roots in the 19th century. The aim of this project is to analyse why and how such practices and criteria for representing the past manifested themselves between ca. 1780 and 1900. In this way, the project wants to contribute to the historicization of public history and cultural memory, which have so far been neglected. Three phases during which re-enactments slowly transformed from a medium of entertainment (ca. 1780-1840), over a means for education (ca. 1840-1870) to a practice that was also used for research purposes (since the 1890s) have been identified. The project wants to show that, in contrast to the thesis that re-enactments are a phenomenon of postmodernity, present-day re-enactments have their origin in practices for an authenticating, immersive and performative representation of the past as they evolved during the 19th century. It postulates the thesis that ever since the turn towards the 19th century, re-enactments have been a cultural praxis for working through fundamental societal changes. They were a reaction to: a changed conception of time after the Enlightenment and the French Revolution (phase one), the age of revolutions (phase two), and the beginnings of high modernity (phase three).

A vlog on the project can be found on the  L.I.S.A. Wissenschaftsportal of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung">


Witness Auschwitz? Digital Reconstructions of Concentration Camps at the Beginning of a Digital-Somatic Phase of Holocaust Memory

Funded by the Grimme Forschungskolleg

January 2020 - December 2020

In cooperation with Thomas Tekster (Grimme Institut) 

At the moment a new medium for representing the Holocaust is appearing: digital reconstructions of concentration camps. Often those representations take the form of virtual or augmented reality. The simulation Witness: Auschwitz for example is supposed to represent “everyday life” in the camp. Amongst the protagonists of memorial culture, these reconstructions are discussed rather controversially. However, a thorough discussion from the point of view of history and media studies is still missing. Using the concepts of immersion, affect and body memory, this project will offer such a discussion. It starts with the hypothesis that the reconstructions stand at the beginning of a new phase of Holocaust memory: the digital-somatic phase. Through digially induced affective and somatic strategies the body becomes part of the memorial process.   

Link to the representation of the project on the hompage of the Grimme Forschungskolleg: 

The Future of Objects - Objects of the Future: Digitisation of Historical Collections in Cologne

Funded by the RheinEnergie Stiftung, in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Gudrun Gersmann (Early Modern History)

Co-ordination: Dr. Steffi de Jong, Research Associates: Luca Jacobs, Kim Opgenoorth, Janek Cordes 

Digital technologies open up numerous possibilities to record, edit, interlink and represent cultural artefacts. With a focus on historical collections in Cologne, the project will analyse how digital transformation changes the cultural memory of a society. What is the impact of digitisation on historical objects and what are the functions of the latter as analogue and digital representations of the past? The project consists of three consecutive modules: an evaluation of the level of digitisation of the historical collections, a symposium, and a concept for an online museum for the university collections. The project will offer an overview over the digital strategies and practices of cultural institutions in Cologne and reflect thereon in the context of debates on digital memory. For this purpose, the Historical Institute of the University of Cologne is closely cooperating with cultural institutions in the city of Cologne.

Link representation of the project on the webpage of the RheinEnergie Stiftung:

Curriculum Vitae


Lecturer at the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Cologne


Tutor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University

2008 - 2012 

Phd Candidate in the Research Project Exhibiting Europe at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

Phd Thesis: Musealising the Witness. Video Testimonies in Holocaust and Second World War Museums.


Research stay at the Institute for European Ethnology at the Humboldt University, Berlin.


MA Analysing Europe at Maastricht University and the Jagiellon University in Krakow.

MA thesis: Europe on Show: Exhibiting European Culture and History in Museums.


European Voluntary Service at the Office for International Relations of the Province of Padua.


BA in English Literature and Drama/Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London (First Class Honours).







de Jong, Steffi (2018). The Witness as Object. Video Testimonies in Memorial Museums. New York: Berghahn Books. 

 Rezensionen: Yaniv Feller, In Reading Religion

                         Ruth Rosenberger, In H-Soz-u-Kult 


de Jong, Steffi (2018). Sentimental Education. Sound and Silence at History Museums. In Museum and Society 16 (1): 88-106. 

de Jong, Steffi (2013). Im Spiegel der Geschichten. Objekte und Zeitzeugenvideos in Museen des Holocaust und des Zweiten Weltkrieges.In WerkstattGeschichte 62, pp.19-41.

de Jong, Steffi (2011). Is this us? The Construction of European Woman/Man in It’s our history!. In Culture Unbound, 4, pp. 369-383: 

Book Chapters: 

de Jong, Steffi (2021) Vor Gettysburg. Vorläufer des Reenactments im 19. Jahrhundert (Before Gettysburg. The Precursors of Reenactments in the 19th century). In Juliane Tomann & Sabine Stach (eds.), Historisches Reenactment. Aktuelle Forschungsperspektiven auf ein geschichtskulturelles Phänomen (Historical Reenactment. Current Research Perspectives on a Phenomenon of Historical Culture), Berlin: de Gruyter.

de Jong, Steffi (2021) Die Zeitzeug*in (The Witness to History). In Mathias Berek et al. (eds.), Handbuch sozialwissenschaftliche Gedächtnisforschung (Handbook on Sociological Memory Studies), Berlin: Springer. URL:

de Jong, Steffi (2018), „Wir sollten auch die Lücken in der Überlieferung aufzeigen“. Steffi de Jong im Gespräch mit Alexander Kraus zum Umgang mit Zeitzeugnissen in Holocaustausstellungen. In Alexander Kraus, Alexander Nedelkovski & Anita Placenti-Grau (eds.), Ein Erinnerungs- und Lernort entsteht. Die Gedenkstätte KZ-Außenlager Laagberg in Wolfsburg, Frankfurt & New York: Campus, S.69-93. 

de Jong, Steffi (2018), „Museum“, In Daniel Morat & Hansjakob Ziemer (eds.), Handbuch Sound, Berlin: J.B. Metzler, S.291-295.  

de Jong, Steffi (2015). Mediatised Memory. Video Testimonies in Museums. In Michelle Henning (eds.), The International Handbook of Museum Studies: Museum Media. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

de Jong, Steffi (2012). Who is History? The Use of Autobiographical Accounts in History Museums. In Kate Hill (eds.), Museums and Biographies: Stories, Objects, Identities. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer (2012), pp. 295-308.

de Jong, Steffi (2011). Bewegte Objekte. Zur Musealisierung des Zeitzeugen. In Sibylle Schmidt, Sibylle Krämer, Ramon Voges (eds.), Politik der Zeugenschaft. Zur Kritik einer Wissenspraxis. Bielefeld: transcript, pp. 243-264.

Further Publications:

de Jong, Steffi, Jacobs, Luca & Opgenoorth, Kim (2020), Zukunft der Objekte, Zukunft des akademischen Austauschs? Blog Public History Weekly 

de Jong, Steffi (2020). Witness Auschwitz? Wie VR Zeugenschaft verändert. Blog Public History Weekly

de Jong, Steffi (2019), „Eine einzigartige Rundfahrt“. Das Motiv des Reisens in immersiven Medien vom Panorama zum TimeRide. In Blog Moral Icons

de Jong, Steffi (2018). Lässt sich der koloniale Blick umdrehen? Das Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum befasst sich mit der Pionierarbeit seines früheren Direktors Julius Lips. Blog Wie weiter mit Humboldts Erbe.Ethnografische Sammlungen neu denken 

de Jong, Steffi (2018). Immersive Räume und empathische Begegnungen. Hologramme und Zeitzeugenvideos als Medien der Holocausterinnerung. Blog Moral Icons 

de Jong, Steffi (2017). Von der Massenschlacht zum Cyborg. Kriegsbilder 1497-1917-2017. Blog Moral Icons

de Jong, Steffi (2015). Von Hologrammen und sprechenden Füchsen. Holocausterinnerung 3.0, paper given at the conference #Erinnern_Kontrovers 

Book and Exhibition Reviews : 

de Jong, Steffi (2021) Conference Review: Workshop Reconfiguring History beyond Disciplinarity, Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena, University of Warsaw, 16.04.2021 - 17.04.2021

de Jong, Steffi (2020). Rezension: Pinchevski, Amit, Transmitted Wounds. Media and the Mediation of Trauma. Oxford: Oxford University Press, In H-Soz-Kult

de Jong, Steffi (2019). Ausstellungsbesprechung, Angst. Eine deutsche Gefühlslage?, Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 10.10.2018-19.05.2019. In H-Soz-u-Kult

de Jong, Steffi (2016). Rezension: Elpers, Sophie & Palm, Anna (eds.) (2013). Die Musealisierung der Gegenwart. Von Grenzen und Chancen des Sammelns in kulturhistorischen Museen. Bielefeld: transcript, In: H-soz-Kult: 

de Jong, Steffi (2016). Rezension: von Stieglitz, Leo & Brune, Thomas (eds.) (2015). Hin und Her. Dialoge in Museen zur Alltagskultur. Aktuelle Positionen zu Besucherpartizipation. Bielefeld: transcript, in Bayrisches Jahrbuch für Volkskunde 2016.

de Jong, Steffi (2015).Museum der Geschichte der polnischen Juden in Warschau POLIN Dauerausstellung. Ausstellungsbesprechung.WerkstattGeschichte 69, 83-88.  

de Jong, Steffi (2015). Rezension: Meijer-van Mensch, Léontine & Tietmeyer, Elisabeth (eds.) (2013). Participative Strategies in Collecting the Present. Berliner Blätter. Ethnographische und ethnologische Beiträge, Vol. 63. In: Bayrisches Jahrbuch für Volkskunde 2015

Interviews/ Public History:

Interview (26/06/2015) for Phoenix vor Ort on the occasion of the visit of Queen Elisabeth II at the Bergen-Belsen Memorial

Interview (09/07/2015) for Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung on Holocausterinnerung 3.0




SS 2019 “Das Archiv und der Zeuge.” Zeugenschaft des Holocaust (Einführungsseminar)

SS 2018 Der Mensch ist was er isst!? Eine Kulturgeschichte der Ernährung und des Geschmacks im globalen Westen seit der Neuzeit (Einführungsseminar) 

SS 2017 Nation und Erinnerung (Einführungsseminar)

WS 2016/2017 “There is Something in the Air.” Eine Geschichte des Hörens und der Klänge (Einführungsseminar)

SS 2016 Museumsrundgänge. Museen als Wissensräume (Arbeitskurs)

Der Holocaust. Ereignis und Erinnerung im digitalen Zeitalter (together with Prof. Dr. Habbo Knoch, Hauptseminar)

WS 2015/2016 Dinggeschichten. Eine Geschichte des Sammelns (Einführungsseminar)

SS 2015 Vom Musentempel zum Science Centre. Eine Geschichte des Museums (Einführungsseminar)

WS 2015/2016 “Das Archiv und der Zeuge.” Zeugenschaft des Holocaust (Einführungsseminar)