Mal d'archive: on the growth of Gunter Demnig's Stolperstein-project

Dora Osborne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In Archive Fever, Derrida opens a critical perspective on the status of the trace as that which remains with his reading of Gradiva, the Pompeian fantasy woman who is supposed to have left her singular toe-print in the ash of Vesuvius. This article returns to the figure of Gradiva as emblem for the non-coincidence of origin and trace, in order to outline the (increasingly troubling) archival aspects of Gunter Demnig's Stolperstein-project, a large-scale, decentralized memorial commemorating those deported under National Socialism. Returning to the site of a missed encounter, Demnig attempts to reinscribe the trace of those who vanished there. But as his project grows, it also shows signs of archive fever, betraying a desire to take possession of the trace of the other, and revealing how, as Derrida describes, the archive does not exist without the political control of memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-386
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Early online date29 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Archive
  • Archive Fever
  • Derrida
  • Gradiva
  • Gunter Demnig
  • Memory culture
  • Stolpersteine


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