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Poland and Polin

New Interpretations in Polish-Jewish Studies

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Edited By Irena Grudzińska-Gross and Iwa Nawrocki

The contributions in this volume reflect discussions and controversies during the Princeton University Conference on Polish-Jewish Studies (April 18–19, 2015). The debates examined the politics of history in Poland, as well as the scholarly and pedagogical need to move beyond national and diasporic narratives in researching and teaching Polish-Jewish subjects. They focused on the role and meaning of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
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Public Pedagogy and Transnational, Transcultural Museums

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1

The evolving domain of “Polish-Jewish Studies” has been framed by its proponents in the context of the recently launched Polish-Jewish Studies Initiative (PJSI) as an anti-nationalist, anti-essentialist, transcultural, place-and-network based project, exceeding the boundaries and concerns of either of its constituent parts. Its goal is to reflect on the cultural and historical conjuncture of communities that gave rise to a vibrant and tragic history beginning almost a thousand years ago and continuing in the present day. The editors of the present volume “would ultimately like to reach several audiences: students, professors, heads of cultural organizations, archivists, émigré groups, and the larger public with an interest in Polish-Jewish relations.”2 This short text points to some ways that Polish-Jewish relations play out in – and trouble – both scholarship and public pedagogy, namely, in the often unacknowledged stakes of the project – personal, political, and professional – for its differently situated practitioners.

This friction was reflected in the difficult encounter between scholars at the spring 2015 meeting at Princeton University from which the present volume emerged. Participants identified as Poles and Americans, some also as Jews; they were historians, anthropologists, sociologists, literary scholars, and cultural studies practitioners. They lived and worked primarily in Poland or in North America. They included “pure” scholars and scholar-curators. Most, I would hazard, would call themselves politically progressive.

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