Director, Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia; Director, Center for European Studies; Director, Copernicus Center for Polish Studies; Professor, Sociology
Geneviève Zubrzycki is a comparative-historical and cultural sociologist who studies national identity and religion, collective memory and national mythology, and the contested place of religious symbols in the public sphere.
Her first book, the award-winning The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland (University of Chicago Press, 2006) analyzed the reconfiguration of the relationship between Polishness and Catholicism after the fall of communism. She did so by examining Poles' and Jews' conflicting memories of World War II, and the international conflict over the presence of Christian symbols at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was translated into Polish in 2014 (Nomos).
In her second book, Beheading the Saint: Nationalism, Religion and Secularism in Quebec (University of Chicago Press, 2016) Zubrzycki analyzed the discursive, ritual and visual genesis of a Catholic French-Canadian ethnic identity in the 19th century, and its transformation into a secular Québécois national identity in the second half of the 20th century. She extended her analysis to the present, looking at the role of Québécois nationalism in recent debates over immigration, the place of religious symbols in the public sphere, and the politics of cultural heritage. The book received multiple national and international awards and was translated into French and Polish (2020).
Zubrzycki pursues her analysis of religion’s role in symbolic boundary-making in a third monograph, tentatively entitled Resurrecting the Jew: Nationalism, Philosemitism and the Politics of Memory in Contemporary Poland (Princeton University Press 2022). Primarily based on participant observation and interviews, the book analyzes the current revival of Jewish communities in Poland and non-Jewish Poles’ interest in all things Jewish.
Zubrzycki has also extended her theoretical thinking and empirical work on the significance of visual culture and materiality in her edited volume National Matters: Materiality, Culture and Nationalism (Stanford University Press, 2017).
Her books and articles received prizes from the American Sociological Association’s sections on Sociology of Culture, Political Sociology, Sociology of Religion, and Collective Behavior and Social Movements; the International Society for the Sociology of Religion; the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion; the Canadian Sociological Association; the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies; and the Polish Studies Association. In 2021, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her "prior achievements and exceptional promise."
Recent Articles (selection)
2020 “The Comparative Politics of Collective Memory.” Annual Review of Sociology, 46:175–94. (with Anna Woźny)
2020 “Quo Vadis, Polonia? On Religious Loyalty, Voice, and Exit.” Social Compass, 67:2.
2019 “National Culture, National Identity, and the Culture(s) of the Nation,” in Laura Grindstaff, Ming-cheng Lo and John R. Hall (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology, 2nd edition, New York: Routledge (Revised and updated version of 2010 chapter), 506-514.
2017 “The Politics of Jewish Absence in Contemporary Poland,” Journal of Contemporary History, 52:2, 250-277.
2017 “Traces and Steps: Expanding Polishness Through a Jewish Sensorium?” in Geneviève Zubrzycki (ed) National Matters: Materiality, Culture and Nationalism. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 193-215.
2016 “Nationalism, ‘Philosemitism’ and Symbolic Boundary-Making in Contemporary Poland. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 58:1, 66-98.
2016 “Problematizing the ‘Jewish Turn’” in Irena Grudzińska-Gross (ed) Poland and Polin. New Interpretations in Polish-Jewish Studies. New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 175-179.
2015 “‘Oświęcim’/ ‘Auschwitz’: Archeology of a Mnemonic Battleground,” in Erica Lehrer and Michael Meng (eds) Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 16-45.