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Jewish Revival in Contemporary Poland: Extending National Boundaries through the Symbolic Other

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Jewish Revival in Contemporary Poland: Extending National Boundaries through the Symbolic Other

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Abstract

Jewishness is a topic of major controversy in Poland. The antisemitic discourse of the conservative party frames Jews as antagonistic to Poles and symbolic of all that endangers national identity. In this context, pro-Jewishness, manifest as renewed interest in Jewish culture, is oen perceived as resistance to narrow understandings of the Polish nation and an expression of liberal longings for a more pluralistic society. The author investigates the link between Jewish revival and national struggles, probing the interests behind the project. Can it be understood as political activism, and if so, activism for whom: Poles, Jews, or both? What are the risks and potential outcomes of this alignment of interests? By focusing on heritage work in the Kazimierz neighbourhood in Kraków, this article challenges the optimism of major works on Jewish revival in Poland, arguing that pro-Jewishness objectifies the Other. By drawing on scholarly theories and her own experience, the author conceptualises Jewish revival as a nation-building project that idealises the Jew as a symbol of wider minority struggles. The revival, however, still creates opportunities for Polish-Jewish encounters that are crucial to transcending ideological antagonisms and advancing dialogue. For this reason, while the project should not be idealised, it should nonetheless be seen in a positive light.

Keywords: nationalism, nationhood, identity, poland, jew, jewishness, otherness, heritage, kazimierz, resistance

How to Cite:

Obrebska, M., (2022) “Jewish Revival in Contemporary Poland: Extending National Boundaries through the Symbolic Other”, Slovo 35(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.0954-6839.1396

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