Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland

Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland

Edited by Erica Lehrer and Michael Meng
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/1/2015
Format: paper 312 pages, 21 b&w illus., 5 maps, 4 tables
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-01503-7
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Description

In a time of national introspection regarding the country’s involvement in the persecution of Jews, Poland has begun to reimagine spaces of and for Jewishness in the Polish landscape, not as a form of nostalgia but as a way to encourage the pluralization of contemporary society. The essays in this book explore issues of the restoration, restitution, memorializing, and tourism that have brought present inhabitants into contact with initiatives to revive Jewish sites. They reveal that an emergent Jewish presence in both urban and rural landscapes exists in conflict and collaboration with other remembered minorities, engaging in complex negotiations with local, regional, national, and international groups and interests. With its emphasis on spaces and built environments, this volume illuminates the role of the material world in the complex encounter with the Jewish past in contemporary Poland.

Author Bio

Erica Lehrer is Associate Professor in the History and Sociology/Anthropology Departments at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she also holds the Canada Research Chair in Post-Conflict Memory, Ethnography, and Museology.

Michael Meng is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Clemson University, South Carolina.

Reviews

"A fascinating reading of a palimpsest of death, devastation and revival of the Jewish world in East Central Europe. This volume brings to light an array of concrete developments occurring in Poland since the sweeping systemic change in the region: the reconstruction of the annihilated Jewish world takes place on the ruins of the communist utopia. This much-needed initiative surveys reconstructive and reconciliatory processes (such as the creation of the Polin, the first museum dedicated to the history of Polish Jewry, the revitalization of Cracow’s Jewish quarter and the ongoing restoration of Polish synagogues, as well as mental maps of nostalgia and memorization) and gives the reader a renewed sense of hope. As a discursive harbinger of the changes, this volume is both constructive in its ethical stance and constructivist in its approach to the cultural and material dimensions of that lost Jewish world." —Bożena Shallcross, University of Chicago

"[T]he authors’ understanding of the Jewishness of 'Jewish space' encompasses the plurality of Jewish expression. As the editors note, their approach seeks 'to break out of predetermined, normative views of Jewishness to explore how history and identity inform each other, raise questions about difference and solidarity, and recognize that Jewish culture is shaped in a field of interactions with other cultures.' From the vantage point of Poland, the editors see their work as part of a national discourse, looking to the construction of a new, post-communist Polish identity." —
Literary Review of Canada

"Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland evokes a revolution – the word is not too strong – in the possibilities, new goals, and shifting facts on the ground associated with Jewish history and lives in Poland today." —Canadian Jewish News

"Highly recommended." —Choice

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Table of Contents

Introduction / Erica Lehrer and Michael Meng
1. “Oświęcim”/ “Auschwitz”: Archeology of a Mnemonic Battleground / Geneviève Zubrzycki
2. Restitution of Communal Property and the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland / Stanislaw Tyszka
3. Muranów as a Ruin: Layered Memories in Postwar Warsaw / Michael Meng
4. Stettin, Szczecin, and the “Third Space.” Urban nostalgia in the German/Polish/Jewish borderlands / Magdalena Waligórska
5. Rediscovering the Jewish Past in the Polish Provinces: The Socio-Economics of Nostalgia / Monika Murzyn-Kupisz
6. Amnesia, Nostalgia, and Reconstruction: Shifting Modes of Memory in Poland’s Jewish Spaces / Slawomir Kapralski
7. Jewish Heritage, Pluralism, and Milieux de Memoire: the case of Krakow’s Kazimierz / Erica Lehrer
8. The Ethnic Cleansing of the German-Polish-Jewish ‘Lodzermensch’ / Winson Chu
9. Stony Survivors: Images of Jewish Space on the Polish Landscape / Robert L. Cohn
10. Reading the Palimpsest / Konstanty Gebert
11. A Jew, a Cemetery, and a Polish Village: A Tale of the Restoration of Memory
Jonathan Webber
12. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews: A Post-War, Post-Holocaust, Post-Communist Story / Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Epilogue: Jewish Spaces and their Future / Diana Pinto
Notes
Contributors
Index
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