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Date: 2008
Author(s): Kijek, Kamil
Date: 2017
Abstract: Artykuł ten przedstawia najważniejsze wątki krytycznej debaty wokół treści wystawy stałej Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich Polin. Analizując różnice między dwoma polami badawczymi – studiami żydowskimi i studiami nad relacjami polsko-żydowskimi – autor broni tezy, że wiele krytycznych głosów w debacie wynika z niezrozumienia różnic między przedmiotem badań tych dwóch pól, po części wynikającego z obecnej sytuacji – panującego nacjonalizmu i etnocentryzmu, wywierających wpływ również na polskie debaty historyczne. Domaganie się od wystawy opowiadającej tysiącletnią historię Żydów na ziemiach polskich, aby koncentrowała się głównie na stosunku społeczeństwa większościowego do Żydów, grozi popełnieniem błędu teleologii, to jest interpretowaniem wcześniejszych wydarzeń i procesów jako nieuchronnie prowadzących do Zagłady, a także pomijaniem wszystkich tych elementów dziejów żydowskich, które z perspektywy Holokaustu i badań nad antysemityzmem nie mają znaczenia. Tego rodzaju postulaty i stojące za nimi metahistoryczne założenia grożą pozbawieniem Żydów roli podmiotów w ich własnej historii. Z drugiej strony autor tekstu wskazuje na elementy narracji wystawy stałej Muzeum Polin, w których rzeczywiście w niedostateczny sposób uwzględniona została problematyka antysemityzmu jako ważnego elementu żydowskiego doświadczenia i kluczowego czynnika dziejów Żydów w Polsce. Przywrócenie rzeczywistego dialogu i komunikacji pomiędzy przedstawicielami studiów żydowskich i badaczami relacji polsko-żydowskich, przy zachowaniu autonomii tych dwóch pól i zrozumieniu różnic pomiędzy nimi, jest też istotne z punktu widzenia niewątpliwych zagrożeń w postaci prób wykorzystania Muzeum Polin w budowie upolitycznionych, bezkrytycznych wizji historii Polski i stosunku Polaków do Żydów.

Author(s): Janicka, Elżbieta
Date: 2015
Abstract: The text refers to the space around the Nathan Rapoport’s Monument to the Fighters and Martyrs of the Ghetto and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN in Warsaw (Poland). The site of death – at the heart of the former Warsaw Ghetto – has now become a site overloaded with other symbolic messages. Two main symbolic centers (the 1948 Monument and the 2013 Museum) are today encircled by ten other, additional memorials. The message emerging from the content as well as the proportion of commemorations is that Polish solidarity with the Jews was a fact and it stood the test of terror and death brought by the Germans. Although it does not undermine the veracity of the few and isolated exceptions, such a version of events is drastically different from the actual facts. Both symbolic centers are perceived as emblems of Jewish minority narrative. Additional artefacts are a message formulated by the Polish majority. They constitute a kind of symbolic encirclement, block. Emphasizing the dominant majority’s version of the events in this place is in fact a symbolic pre-emptive action. It is meant to silence the unwanted narrative or suppress even the mere possibility that it might emerge. What turns out to be at stake in the dominant Polish narrative about the Holocaust and Polish-Jewish relations is the image of Poland and the Poles. This shows not only the topographic and symbolic situation but also the socio-cultural context of the functioning of the new Museum.
Author(s): Gershenson, Olga
Date: 2015
Abstract: In 2012, a new Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center opened in Moscow – an event unthinkable during the Soviet regime. Financed at the level of $50 million, created by an international crew of academics and museum designers, and located in a landmark building, the museum immediately rose to a position of cultural prominence in the Russian museum scene. Using interactive technology and multimedia, the museum's core exhibition presents several centuries of complex local Jewish history, including the Second World War period. Naturally, the Holocaust is an important part of the story. Olga Gershenson's essay analyzes the museum's relationship to Holocaust history and memory in the post-Soviet context. She describes the museum's struggle to reconcile a Soviet understanding of the “Great Patriotic War” with a dominant Western narrative of the Holocaust, while also bringing the Holocaust in the Soviet Union to a broader audience via the museum. Through recorded testimonies, period documents, and film, the museum's display narrates the events of the Holocaust on Soviet soil. This is a significant revision of the Soviet-era discourse, which universalized and externalized the Holocaust. But this important revision is limited by the museum's choice to avoid the subject of local collaborators and bystanders. The museum shies away from the most pernicious aspect of the Holocaust history on Soviet soil, missing an opportunity to take historic responsibility and confront the difficult past.
Author(s): Zaagsma, Gerben
Date: 2011
Date: 2016
Abstract: Focusing on three contemporary grassroots initiatives of preserving Jewish heritage and commemorating Jews in Belarus, namely, the Jewish Museum in Minsk, Ada Raǐchonak’s private museum of regional heritage in Hermanovichi, and the initiative of erecting the monument of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda in Hlybokae, the present article discusses how local efforts to commemorate Jews and preserve Jewish heritage tap into the culture of political dissent, Belarus’s international relations, and the larger project of redefining the Belarusian national identity. Looking at the way these memorial interventions frame Jewish legacy within a Belarusian national narrative, the article concentrates in particular on the institution of the public historian and the small, informal social networks used to operate under a repressive regime. Incorporating the multicultural legacy of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth into the canon of Belarusian national heritage and recognizing the contribution of ethnic minorities to the cultural landscape of Belarus, new memory projects devoted to Jewish history in Belarus mark a caesura in the country’s engagement with its ethnic Others and are also highly political. While the effort of filling in the gaps in national historiography and celebrating the cultural diversity of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania overlaps in significant ways with the agenda of the anti-Lukashenka opposition, Jewish heritage in Belarus also resonates with the state authorities, who seek to instrumentalize it for their own vision of national unity.
Author(s): Bogen, Marthe
Date: 2015
Author(s): Nathenson, Cary
Date: 2013
Abstract: In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
In the mid-1940s, a little girl on the South Side of Chicago really, really wanted a Christmas tree. This commonplace request was complicated by just one thing: the girl, like most of her neighbors, was Jewish. The temper tantrum must have been ferocious, because the girl somehow got her mother to give in. A tree was procured and smuggled down the alley into the apartment, lest the neighbors get wind of the shande. The girl enjoyed her Christmas tree, alongside her Hanukkah menorah, until one day she developed a fever, and the tree was hastily stuffed into a closet before the pediatrician, Dr. Rosen-bloom, arrived.

The stress of this secret Christmas was ultimately too much bother, so this would be my mother’s one and only “Chrismukkah” celebration. Of course, she didn’t know to call it that, nor did she know that craving a Christmas tree placed her on a historical continuum with her German-Jewish ancestors, some of whom might have celebrated the hybrid holiday called “Weihnukka” (from Weihnachten, German for “Christmas.”) Weihnukka was not an actual holiday but referred instead to the practice of some assimilated—but not converted—Jews who adopted Christmas rituals in the private sphere. In some German-Jewish bourgeois homes of the Wilhelmine era, trees, advent calendars, wreaths and other, mostly superficial trappings of the holiday co-existed, if not usurped, the rituals of Judaism’s winter holiday, Hanukkah. To the extent the term was used at all, Weihnukka was probably mostly heard mockingly by Jews who were embarrassed by this behavior.1 The Christmas these Jews celebrated was less about the birth of Jesus Christ than it was about fitting in with neighbors. Christmas was widely seen as belonging to and defining of the German nation rather than a religious festival, and therefore celebrating the holiday was just something that “real” Germans did, regardless of their religion. While some German-Jews no doubt experienced feelings of embarrassment, even shame, at assimilating Christmas into their family traditions, others achieved what was certainly the main objective: a sense of normalcy as Germans while maintaining self-identification as Jewish.

For one assimilated Jewish-German child, Christmas was so fully part of his normal family life that the tree in the gute Stube appeared without question each December. It was only after National Socialist racial laws required him to attend special Jewish-only schools that he learned that Jews actually celebrate Hanukkah, not Christmas. Not coincidentally, these are the recollections of Michael Blumenthal, a Jew from Oranienburg, just north of Berlin, who would escape fascism and later became Treasury Secretary under U.S. President Jimmy Carter and who now heads the Jewish Museum Berlin.2 The cultural-historical oddity of German-Jewish Christmas celebrations was the subject of a temporary exhibit at the museum. The show, titled “Weihnukka: Geschichten von Weihnachten und Chanukka” (Chrismukkah: Stories of Christmas and Hanukkah), was on display from October 2005 to January 2006. Now, even several years later, it is apparent that the Weihnukka show can be read as a significant moment along a line of the continuity and discontinuity of Jewish, German, and “Jewish-German” identity.

The exhibit mostly featured artifacts and texts documenting nineteenth-and early-twentieth- century holiday practices, explaining Hanukkah for non-Jewish museum visitors, and casting Christmas as a celebration in the German-nationalist context of the era.3 While the fraught navigation of Jewish-German identity in Gründerzeit Germany is at the core of the exhibit, what captured my attention were the elements of contemporary American popular culture used to conclude the show. The museum administration contends that they were included merely to bring this cultural history up to date for visitors.4 This was no doubt their intention, and yet I will argue that these American aspects of the Weihnukka exhibit have important functions and meanings beyond the superficial level of visitor experience. I look back, then, at this exhibit, in order to interrogate its implications for global identity and even the traditional idea of diaspora in the context of today’s German-Jewish community, and what this temporary exhibit tells us about the ongoing function of the Jewish Museum Berlin...
Author(s): Clark, David
Date: 2007
Abstract: The immediate postwar in Europe was characterised by collective amnesia concerning where Jews had lived prior to the Holocaust. By the 1970s and mid-1980s, there was a revival of interest in residential areas, synagogues and cemeteries connected with a Jewish past, right throughout Europe, including former communist countries in the 1990s. This resulted in much renovation and the attempt to provide new uses for such sites as museums and cultural centres.

My paper focuses on the shift in emphasis from the need to preserve such sites as places of memory to an increasing concern with other issues. Such issues range from tourism promotion to the promotion of multiculturalism. This emphasis on preparing the younger generation for a future in a new multicultural state provides much of the motivation for central and local government to lend support to such initiatives, whether in Sweden, Germany or Italy, for instance.

The paper focuses on the Jewish Museum in Bologna, where I conducted fieldwork between 1999 and 2002. The study illustrates the mix of policy objectives involved, such as heritage preservation, urban regeneration, cultural policy and educational objectives. The theoretical discussion seeks to combine Clifford's notion of the museum as a contact zone (Clifford, 1997) with Foucault's notions on discourse formation (Foucault, 1972). In the process, the analysis of the museum's political economy extends beyond the four walls of the museum into the adjoining space of the ghetto and the city.

Date: 2014
Author(s): Sion, Brigitte
Date: 2016
Abstract: The goals of the Foundation in conducting this survey were manifold:
we aimed to generate a comprehensive picture of the Jewish museum
landscape across Europe, and to identify the most pressing issues,
challenges and needs faced by these institutions. We wanted to learn about
the mission, philosophy and methodology of Jewish museums, and better
understand their role and position in the cultural and educational realm at
large. We were also interested in the level of professionalization of Jewish
museums, both in staff training, collection preservation and cataloguing,
management, and the ways in which Jewish museums communicate and
arrange partnerships with one another. With a better understanding of
these issues, we want now to assess the resources needed and the funding
priorities for the next five to ten years.

The questionnaire was sent to 120 institutions in 34 countries and we
received 64 completed forms from 30 countries. The questions addressed
eleven broad topics: organisation, collections, permanent and temporary
exhibitions, facility, visitor services, public programmes, visitor
demographics, marketing and PR, finances, future plans and needs.

This diverse sample enabled us to get, for the first time, a quasicomprehensive
picture of the Jewish museum landscape in Europe, from
small community museums to landmarks of “starchitecture;” from
institutions boasting thousands of rare objects to others mostly text
panels- or technology-based; from museums employing scores of
professional staff and interns to synagogues-turned-exhibition halls run by
volunteers for a few hours a month. That was precisely the challenge: the
large and numerous discrepancies between institutions, depending on their
location, their financial and human resources, their political and economic
context, the type of visitors they receive, and other contextual
considerations.

The results point to four major findings:
1. Transition from museums to multi-purpose hubs;
2. Lack of collaboration and partnerships;
3. Tension between particularistic and universalistic missions;
4. Increasing need to serve a diverse audience.