The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia: An Introductory Lecture (Prof. Jonathan Webber)

Prof. Jonathan Webber
CEE: Culture, Heritage and Society
This lecture is an introduction to a course that I run at the Centre for European Studies on the subject of the Jewish heritage of Polish Galicia (southern Poland). This territory had an extremely dense Jewish population before the Second World War, which was almost completely wiped out during the Holocaust. However, there are many physical traces of that Jewish past that have survived---empty synagogue buildings, for example, or abandoned Jewish cemeteries, as well as Holocaust memorials dotted around the countryside. What this course is about is how to make sense of these ruins of the past. For example, how do local people cope after a genocide? What memories of the past do they try to preserve, and what gets forgotten? In particular, what is it that gets shown in local museums about the vanished Jewish culture of this region? What are their assumptions about the nature of the Jewish heritage, today often reconstructed also by tourist and other local agencies? The course is intended for interdisciplinary students---no prior knowledge of Jewish culture is required, nor anthropology, nor museum studies, although the course dips into all those fields.

  • Clark, David, Developing Jewish Museums in Europe (London: Institute for Jewish Policy Research, 1999).
  • Craddy, Kate, Jewish Museums, in Kate Craddy, Mike Levy, and Jakub Nowakowski (eds), Poland: A Jewish Matter (Warszawa: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, 2010), pp. 143–52.
  • Gruber, Ruth Ellen, Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), pp. 155–79 on Jewish museums.
  • Heimann-Jelinek, Felicitas, Thoughts on the Role of a European Jewish Museum in the 21st Century, in Richard I. Cohen (ed.), Visualizing and Exhibiting Jewish Space and History (Studies in Contemporary Jewry, 26), (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 243–57.
  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara, Theater of History, in Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Antony Polonsky (eds), Polin: 1000 Year History of Polish Jews (Warsaw: Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, 2014), pp. 19–35.
  • Webber, Jonathan, Rediscovering Traces of Memory: The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, for the Galicia Jewish Museum, Kraków, 2009).
Last modified: Tuesday, 21 April 2015, 12:05 PM