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Conversations on Europe. "'With One Color, We Cannot See': Building Pluralism through Jewishness in Contemporary Poland."

Thursday, January 9, 2014
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

This talk analyzes the growing interest in Jews and all things Jewish in contemporary Poland—from the spectacular popularity of Festivals of Jewish culture to the opening of Judaica bookstores and Jewish cuisine restaurants; from the development of Jewish studies programs at various Universities and the creation of several museums to artists’ and public intellectuals engagement with Poland’s Jewish past and Polish-Jewish relations more broadly. Based on archival research, participant observation and over 60 formal interviews with Jewish and non-Jewish activists and informal conversations with participants in various Jewish-centered initiatives, Professor Zubrzycki argues that this cultural phenomenon is an attempt by specific political and social groups to build an ideologically-plural society in a demographically homogenous nation-state. Building on the literature on nationalism and symbolic boundaries, she shows that bringing back Jewish culture and “resurrecting the Jew” is a way to soften and stretch the symbolic boundaries of the nation that the Right wants to harden and shrink with Catholicism as its main tool.

Sponsors: CES, Copernicus Endowment, CREES, Judaic Studies

Geneviève Zubrzycki, Associate Professor of Sociology, U-M