Shoah-business, Holocaust culture, and the repair of the world in post-Jewish Poland : a quest for ethnography, empathy, and the ethnic self after genocide / by Erica T. Lehrer.
This dissertation illustrates how a moral burden of history manifests itself in social relationships, cultural processes, and material products. Specifically, it argues that what appears to many as a superficial, commercially motivated revival of Jewishness in Poland is also a significant joint venture between non-Jewish Poles and Jewish visitors to Poland in exploring inter-ethnic memory-building and reconciliation. The findings are based on 18 months of ethnographic research in the historical Jewish quarter (Kazimierz) in Kraków, Poland, with further research in Israel and the United States among diaspora Jews.My research reveals that the notion of uniform “Holocaust tourism” disguises a movement to contest “lachrymose” conceptions of Jewishness as victimhood. I document a sense of Jewish connection to Poland—overlooked in mainstream discourses—that animates new generations of Jews and Poles to seek each other out. Similarly, much of the “Jewish” revival in Kazimierz is orchestrated by non-Jewish Poles. I show how they use identification with Jewishness to reconfigure their own Polishness and their visions for a pluralistic Polish nation state.I conclude that (1) popular cultural products, practices, and spaces can be important manifestations of—and tools for—moral reckoning; (2) identification with “someone else's” ethnicity/religion (often called “appropriation”) can be understood as an enlargement of, rather than an escape from, the self, and (3) Kazimierz in Kraków represents the cutting edge of Polish-Jewish relations via local grassroots culture brokers who use Jewishness to expand the Polish “universe of obligation.”
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:19:00
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