3rd Int’l Polish Jewish Studies Workshop
“Doikeyt, Diaspora, Borderlands: Imagining Polish Jewish Territories”
University of Illinois at Chicago, April 10-12, 2016

This three-day conference and workshop, convened by the Polish Jewish Studies Initiative, will be devoted to exploring key developments and new directions in the growing field of Polish Jewish studies, with a particular focus on changing scholarly approaches to Polish Jewish territories, both geographical and imaginary. Panels, held at Richard J. Daley Library on UIC’s downtown Chicago campus, will explore physical territories and cultural spaces that have shaped Jewish, Polish and Polish Jewish cultures and histories, and that have come into being at and through the intersection of Polish and Jewish cultures.  The 3rd International Polish Jewish Studies Workshop will combine scholarly panel discussions with cultural programming designed to reach a broad Chicago-area public, and to bring members of the Polish and Jewish diasporas together at the UIC campus to explore the complex cultural and historical dynamics that link these communities to each other and to their shared heritage on historically Polish lands.

How were the multivalent concepts of “diaspora” and “doikeyt” or “hereness” used in the early 20th century, within Zionist, Diaspora Nationalist, Territorialist, Socialist and Polish Nationalist discourses?  How are these terms, together with the concept of the borderland, acquiring new resonance within scholarly and communal discourses today – particularly as hybrid, post-national or transnational models for the construction of the Jewish, Polish and Polish Jewish cultural imaginaries are gaining currency?

What other territorial and spatial paradigms are helping to shape and to change the ways that we research, teach and understand Polish Jewish culture and history today, and the ways that we shape our curricula?  We consider, for example, the concepts of Polin, Yiddishland, Ashkenaz and the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth; the concept of the pluralistic or multicultural “Borderlands” as a region of cultural encounter; key sites of contemporary Polish-Jewish memory work including museums (continuing the workshop’s in-depth discussion of Warsaw’s POLIN museum begun in 2015) and restored or reconstructed synagogues; cosmopolitan spaces of the interwar period in Poland such as the bookstore, the university, the cabaret and the Polish interwar political arena, and modernist art movements.

A collaborative project of the Slavic Studies and History faculties at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ohio State University, Princeton University and The University of Michigan, the April 2016 workshop and conference at UIC will be the third in a series of gatherings bringing together international scholars working at the intersection of Jewish and Polish Studies — following previous workshops held in March 2014 at Ohio State University, and April 2015 at Princeton University. The goal of these workshops has been to establish an international forum for communication among scholars working in the developing field of Polish Jewish Studies; to identify theoretical and methodological developments of greatest relevance to new research in the field; and to mark a path for scholars, educators and activists who would like to see the study of Polish and Jewish cultures more intentionally and productively intertwined.

Read more on this year’s Workshop and Conference:  Gazeta Fall 2015 PJSW 2016

Organized by: 
Karen Underhill
, University of Illinois at Chicago 
Irena Grudzińska Gross
, Princeton University
Jessie Labov
, Ohio State University 
Geneviève Zubrzycki, 
University of Michigan
Agnieszka Rudzińska, Adam Mickiewicz Institute