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Author(s): Sandri, Olivia
Date: 2013
Abstract: Throughout Europe products of Jewish culture – or what is perceived as such – have become viable components of the popular public domain. Jewish-themed tourism has emerged since the 1990s in a number of European cities after decades of “collective amnesia”, and some of the Jewish areas have recently undergone a ‘Jewish-thematisation’.

The focal point of this article is the usage of heritage in former Jewish areas. The aim is to understand in which ways and to what extent Jewish heritage is used for tourism purposes. A comparison between Krakow and Vilnius underlines what this difference in usage depends on, in the context of increasingly popular cultural and heritage tourism. In order to understand how Jewish-themed tourism has developed an inventory of Jewish heritage and Jewish-themed events in the two cities is made, showing that Jewish heritage is mainly used for economic development through tourism as well as commemoration in Krakow, whereas in Vilnius, it is used for commemoration and for the needs of the local (Jewish) community. The complexity of the topic and the importance of various local factors in the usage of Jewish heritage are shown. There does not exist, neither in Krakow nor in Vilnius, any specific public policies regarding Jewish heritage that can explain the ’degree’ of touristification and ’heritagisation’ of the areas.

Furthermore, a range of connected theoretical issues, such as authenticity, commodification of culture, or ownership of heritage, is raised.
Date: 2013
Author(s): Gruber, Ruth Ellen
Date: 2009
Abstract: This essay explores two “real imaginary” worlds in Europe -- the “virtually Jewish” and the “imaginary wild west.” The author describes some of the ways that European non-Jews adopt, enact and transform elements of Jewish culture, using Jewish culture at times to create, mold, or find, their own identities. She also describes a surprising and remarkably multi-faceted Far West subculture in Europe that, stoked, marketed and even created by popular culture, forms a connected collection of “Wild Western spaces.” There are major differences between the “virtually Jewish” phenomenon and the “virtually western” European response to the American Frontier saga. One has to do with a real, traumatic issue: coming to terms with the Holocaust and its legacy of guilt and loss. The other is the embrace and elaboration of a collective fantasy and its translation into personal experience. But in certain ways they can be viewed as analogous phenomena. Both have to do with identity, and the ways in which people use other cultures to shape their own identities. In addition, in both “virtually Jewish” and “imaginary western” realms, the issue of “authenticity” is involved, as well as the distinction between creative cultural appropriation and mere imitation. Both entail the creation of “new authenticities” -- things, places and experiences that in themselves are real, with all the trappings of reality, but that are quite different from the “realities” on which they are modeled or that they are attempting to evoke. The process has led to the formation of models, stereotypes, modes of behavior and even traditions.