Customizing memory: Number tattoos in contemporary Israeli memory work

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4 Scopus citations


This article considers the recent appearance of the Auschwitz prisoner number tattoo on the bodies of Israeli descendants of Holocaust survivors. While media attention granted to this phenomenon is disproportionate to its actual size, it reveals something fundamental about Holocaust representation and commemoration in Israel today. Thinking through the concept of postmemory and its reliance on mediation in this context means that the skin itself can be regarded as a medium passing on memories that have not been directly experienced. The significance of the skin as a locus for commemoration is examined in relation and opposition to other various institutionalized forms of memory practices, to argue that re-tattooing is a form of customizable individual and collective memory. This practice serves as a unique form of bodily memorialization that plays out in the context of new media tools, a socio-political context, and generational succession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-661
Number of pages13
JournalMemory Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


The author is greatful for comments from Allen Feldman, Amit Pinchevski, and Marita Sturken ; the fellows of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) for fruitful discussions during my residency; and Dana Doron and Rolanda Teicher Yekutiel for providing me with copies of their work. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

FundersFunder number
Institute for Human Sciences


    • Holocaust
    • customization
    • media
    • postmemory
    • tattoo


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