On April 2-4, the Copernicus Program in Polish Studies (CPPS) at the University of Michigan hosted an international workshop on the theme “Generations and Genealogies.” This was the 4th Annual Polish Jewish Workshop, drawing on a global, interdisciplinary network of scholars who conduct research on critical issues in the culture and history of Polish Jews. CPPS Director and Associate Professor of Sociology Geneviève Zubrzycki, who organized the workshop, commented on its importance: “the field of Polish Jewish studies is undergoing a significant boom, and we were honored to host a conference that brought together distinguished senior academics and up-and-coming scholars from three continents, discussing the genealogy of the field and where it is going, as well as opening new avenues for future research.”

During the workshop, nearly 40 scholars presented their research on contemporary Polish Jewish life and culture, as well as the past, especially through the lens of history and museums. Of particular note is the enthusiastic participation of junior scholars in this dynamic field. Presenters included researchers and activists in the third or fourth generation since the Holocaust, who are focusing their scholarly work on Jewish religion, history, and culture in Poland, which signals that the field has longevity and the potential for growth.

A highlight of the gathering was the Annual Copernicus Lecture, delivered to a full auditorium by distinguished Polish activist Adam Michnik on the legacy of 1968 protests for the Jewish community in Poland. Michnik received an honorary doctorate from the University of Michigan in 2001, and this is the third time he has delivered the Annual Copernicus Lecture. He also visited U-M for a major conference marking the 10th anniversary of the Polish Round Table talks that led to the peaceful end to communism in Poland and elsewhere across Europe.

In addition to Adam Michnik, the workshop hosted author and scholar Agata Tuszyńska, who read from her recently translated book Family History of Fear: A Memoir. Other distinguished guests included renowned historian Samuel Kassow from Trinity College, Andrzej Rojek and Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka from the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, and Patti Kenner of the Indian Trail Charitable Foundation. The conference was also well attended by members of the Detroit-area Polish and Jewish communities.

The 4th Annual Polish Jewish Workshop was organized by CPPS in collaboration with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Campus Project along with the following lead sponsors: Indian Trail Charitable Foundation in Memory of Bert J. Askwith ’31, Jan Karski Educational Foundation, National Programme for the Development of Humanities (Poland), POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and University of Warsaw’s Robert B. Zajonc Institute for Social Studies. Additional support came from the following U-M co-sponsors: Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies; College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Frankel Center for Judaic Studies; Institute for the Humanities; International Institute; Office of Research; Rackham Dean’s Strategic Initiative Fund; and Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies.

Visit the workshop webpage to view paper abstracts, presenter biographies, and video of the Annual Copernicus Lecture.

Contact: Marysia Ostafin / T: 734.764.0351 / E: copernicus@umich.edu


The Copernicus Program in Polish Studies (CPPS) at the University of Michigan was established in 2014 after 40 years of activity and programs offered by the Nicolaus Copernicus Endowment. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the great Polish astronomer’s birth, the endowment and a Polish program were launched in 1973 in cooperation with students, faculty, and the Polish Americans of Michigan who contributed generously with their time, energy, and financial assistance. CPPS continues the tradition today by enabling faculty appointments, programming, and student fellowships in Polish studies. It also organizes the Annual Copernicus Lecture—established in 1980—which brings prominent academic, cultural, and political figures to campus to offer the public a deeper understanding of Poland’s people, culture, and history, as well as its growing influence in world academics, arts, and affairs. For more information, visit
ii.umich.edu/cpps.  

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