The rules of the reservation. On the book Jewish Poland Revisited by Erica Lehrer Cover Image

Regulamin rezerwatu. O książce "Jewish Poland Revisited" Eriki Lehrer
The rules of the reservation. On the book Jewish Poland Revisited by Erica Lehrer

Author(s): Konrad Matyjaszek
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, Jewish studies, Essay|Book Review |Scientific Life, Studies of Literature, Book-Review
Published by: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Cracow; Polish-Jewish relations; heritage; tourism; Jewish property

Summary/Abstract: The paper offers a review of Erica Lehrer’s Jewish Poland Revisited, a publication presenting outcomes of an anthropological research on Jewish-Polish memory projects in Cracow's former Jewish district of Kazimierz. In a discussion of the book's theses, the author critically analyses Lehrer's postulate of 'ethnography of possibility' and the resultant strategy of approval for contemporary Kazimierz as a 'space of encounter' alongside with its rules of participation, imposed by the Polish proprietors of the district on its visitors. The article focuses on two such rules that condition a visitor’s possibility of participation in shrinking public spaces of Kazimierz. First of these laws is discussed as an imperative of abandoning the immediacy of district's physical space and its histories signified by the surviving built environment. Instead, Lehrer introduces a conceptual division of "social" and "physical" spaces, which leads to silencing of otherwise immediately present evidence of the violent past. The second rule is analyzed as a requirement of accepting the contemporary Polish owners’ role of 'brokers" and "purveyors" of Jewish heritage, consequential with an approval of a doubtful legal and moral title to the appropriated spaces. Through focusing on these rules of participation that determine and perpetuate the conditionality of Jewish presence in the space of Kazimierz, the author argues for a necessity of questioning and re-defining the traditional divisions of disciplines that establish conceptual separations of "social" and "built" spaces, as well as for a necessity of a critical outlook on contemporary Central European understandings of "heritage". Such an inquiry is discussed as conditional for overcoming the largely avoided yet still present "heritages" in the history of Polish-Jewish relations: the traditions of violence and exclusion, either social and spatial.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 79-108
  • Page Count: 30
  • Language: Polish