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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.131
Practices of Remembering and Belonging: Jewish Heritage and Civic Agency in Poland’s Haunted Urban Spaces
"Based on research in the Polish city of Wroclaw (conducted together with my colleague and co-author Juliet Golden) situated in the Polish city of Wroclaw, we investigate the potential of urban actors as agents of resilience and social change, focusing primarily on practices related to historical memory and heritage. We focus on creative modes of engagement with the past by these agents. We are particularly interested in the ways they deal with Jewish absences or voids (K. Till 2005; G. Zubrzycki 2016; JB Michlic and M. Melchior 2013) as a part of constructing contemporary modes of urban belonging. Our ethnographic study draws on interviews and observations of concrete individuals and institutions that specifically build their urban activity on sites of or in reference to the city’s Jewish heritage. Our examples include non-public schools, NGOs and Jewish cemeteries, which have become important locifor interaction with the past in the city’s landscape, a space largely devoid of actually living Jewish residents. We are interested in how the practices of historical memory of these urban agents in today’s Poland counteract the reactive historical politics of the state, directed at the suppressing and silencing of historical and actually existing social, political and cultural diversity. In this way, we explore how Jewish heritage in urban Poland becomes a gateway for the building of open society and inspiring civic engagement in times of rising state-inspired tribal nationalism and the degradation of national democratic politics. "