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Poland and Polin

New Interpretations in Polish-Jewish Studies


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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The Embassy of Poland in Poland: The Polin Myth in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews as Narrative Pattern and Model of Minority-Majority Relations


In those words – alternative visions – you have in condensed form what I believe is the essence of a useful museum. For as I see it, that museum is best that helps to free a society from the tyranny of a redundant and conventional vision – that is to say, from the tyranny of the present. […] A museum, then, must be an argument with its society. […] A good museum always will direct attention to what is difficult and even painful to contemplate. Therefore, those who strive to create such museums must proceed without assurances that what they do will be appreciated.

– Neil Postman, “Museum as dialogue” (1990)1

Warsaw, Poland. 70 years later. A “Museum of Life” on the site of death. What is going on within the area where the Holocaust took place and which, until recently, was considered an icon of the Holocaust? I am referring here to the square, formerly filled in with a void – if not with the Void – which has now become a site loaded – if not overloaded – with other symbolic messages.2 I propose to look at the space around the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the design of the building and its content – within their mutual interactions – as a text of culture, a kind of spatial-discursive production. What narrative stems from it? What is at stake in this narrative? ← 121 | 122 →


For years, the only symbolic center in this place with no...

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