I am a cultural historian and sociologist. My fields of interest include: contemporary Polish and Belarusian history, nationalism and national symbols, Jewish heritage and popular culture, Jewish/non-Jewish relations, music and identity, and memory studies.
I studied literature, cultural studies and sociology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and Högskolan Dalarna in Sweden. I obtained my PhD from the European University Institute in Florence (Department of History and Civilization) in 2009. I was a Humboldt Fellow at the Free University in Berlin (2011-2013) and assistant professor of Eastern European History and Culture at the University of Bremen (2013-2020). I have published extensively on Jewish culture, Jewish-non-Jewish relations and nationalism. My first book, Klezmer’s Afterlife: An Ethnography of the Jewish Music Revival in Poland and Germany, appeared with Oxford University Press in 2013. My current book project concerns the history of the symbol of the cross in the Polish political imagination. Other research projects I am presently pursuing include a study of Holocaust motifs in Polish vernacular art and a post-1945 history of the shtetl in the Polish-Belarusian-Ukrainian borderlands.
Mapping the Archipelago of Lost Towns: Post-Holocaust Urban Lacunae in the Polish-Belarusian-Ukrainian Borderlands
While urban centers across East-Central Europe suffered unprecedented damage and population losses during WWII, with some of them entirely wiped out and many others depopulated, it was the archipelago of smaller towns often with a substantial Jewish majority—the shtelts—that faced a complete demise. This project, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, looks at the long-term consequences of systematic population exchange at the epicenter of the so-called “Holocaust by bullets,” in the “lost towns” of the Polish-Belarusian-Ukrainian borderlands. It examines both the strategies of obliterating or adopting (and adapting) “disinherited heritage” after 1945, applying both historical and anthropological methods. In focus are three interrelated phenomena of: overwriting, “displaced memories,” and the revival of Jewish heritage after 1989/1991. By mapping the fate of “lost towns” across state borders, the project offers a contribution to our understanding of not only the economic, social and cultural ramifications of the process of appropriation and repopulation of vacated spaces, but also of long-term effects of genocide on “communities of implication” and their space-related practices of remembering and forgetting.