Irit Dekel

Irit Dekel

Assistant Professor, Germanic Studies

Assistant Professor, Jewish Studies

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Sociology

Director: Olamot Center for scholarly and cultural exchange with Israel


  • Ph.D., Sociology, The New School for Social Research

Fields of interest

  • Memory Studies
  • Media and the Public Sphere
  • Ethnic, Race, and Gender Inequalities
  • Contemporary German Culture
  • Migration
  • Museums

About Irit Dekel

Irit Dekel’s research examines the relations between collective memory, media and the public sphere. Her recent work focuses on contemporary discourse on Holocaust memorialization and antisemitism in Germany as sites in which to study the social positions of ethnic and religious minorities, their civic actions, and representations. Dekel uses ethnography as well as discourse analytical methods to study ‘culture’, broadly understood to include literary, visual, and performative art works, knowledge, memory, and communication.

Dekel co-led a comparative research project on the representation and experience of home in Home Museums in Germany and Israel. This comparative study yielded works on the sociology of atmosphere, home museums’ presentation of gender, and mediating techniques of tour guides.

Dekel’s first book, Mediation at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, analyzed how various groups mediate their experience in the Holocaust Memorial, performing a moral transformation around how they relate to Holocaust memory and subsequent German histories. Dekel argued that visitors reflect on and negotiate the modes in which they feel expected to engage with Holocaust memories along with questions of belonging by Jews and other minorities to the German society.

In her second monograph, provisionally titled ‘Witnessing Positions: Jews, Memories and Minorities in Contemporary Germany’ Dekel investigates how communities led by Jews, migrants and Muslims, in their variety and intersections, recount social roles available for them within majority society, and negotiate their status in publications, cultural events, political interventions and exhibitions. The book chapters offer an analysis of the representation of Jews and other minorities in the daily Media, museum exhibitions that focus on Jews, public debated on Holocaust and colonial memories and activism by social groups who resist the marginalization of migrants in Germany. It contributes to the public and academic discussions of social change in Germany, memory activism, and on state and grassroot activists’ relations.

Dekel’s research has been supported by the IU Office of the Vice Provost for Research Faculty Fellowship for Research in Social Science, and the IU Bloomington Institute of Advanced Study. Her research has previously been funded by the German Israeli Foundation (GIF); the German Academic Exchange Program (DAAD), the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Dekel is the recipient of the 2023 William H. Wiggins Faculty Award in Support of Teaching and Mentoring in the African American and African Diaspora Studies at IU.

Selected Publications