The Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies (IPJS) was established in 1984. It is a non-profit, educational institution devoted to the history and culture of Polish Jewry. It is an associated institute of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
The IPJS is best known for the publication of the yearbook Polin. Studies in Polish Jewry, edited by world renowned historian Antony Polonsky (Brandeis University) and published by the Littman Library for Jewish Civilization, Oxford. In recent years, volumes have been dedicated to the history of the Jews in Cracow, and in Lithuania and in Ukraine. Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry publishes original research by leading scholars from a variety of disciplines working in the fields of history, literary criticism, history of the Holocaust, and the history of Jewish-non-Jewish relations.
The Institute of Polish Jewish Studies has hosted a number of significant public events, with the yearly conference to launch the new volume of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry being the most important. These events have been held in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, and the Polish Cultural Institute, London. The IPJS cooperates with the Polish Cultural Institute, London, the Institute of Jewish Studies at University College London, and the American Association of Polish-Jewish Studies.
Public events devoted to a variety of topics are organized throughout the year. These events focus on the rich and variegated history and culture of eastern European Jewish communities, as well as the Holocaust. Members of the Institute of Polish-Jewish Studies engage actively in academic research and education, and are frequent public speakers on the history and culture of Polish and eastern European Jewry, as well as on the history of the Holocaust.
2020-21 IPJS Events Calendar
3 Nov 2020, 6:30pm - with The Wiener Library and on Zoom:
Agnes Kaposi - "Yellow Star Red Star". Last year's postponed event returns, with Agnes Kaposi in conversation with our IPJS Chair, François Guesnet. Agnes Kaposi, born in 1932 to a Hungarian-Jewish and socialist family, survived Debrecen ghetto and labour camps in Austria, and left Hungary for England after the 1956 uprising to work as an industrial and academic researcher in the Telecommunication and Computer industries. Agnes is a Churchill Fellow and the third woman elected as Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
1 December 2020, 6:30pm on Zoom:
Marc Volovici: German as a Jewish Problem In his recent book publication German as a Jewish Problem, Marc Volovici (Birkbeck College) explores the multilingual nature of the Jewish national sphere in Central and Eastern Europe, and the centrality of the German language within it. He argues that it is impossible to understand the histories of modern Hebrew and Yiddish without situating them in relation to German - a hypothesis we look forward to probe. Chair: François Guesnet (UCL)
15 Dec 2020 - with UCL's Institute of Jewish Studies (UCL IJS) and on Zoom:
Of Chicken and Eggs: Jewish Political Agency in the Context of Jewish Self-Government in the Polish Lands IPJS Chair François Guesnet in discussion with IPJS Founder and Vice-President Antony Polonsky. Jewish self-government in the Polish lands has since long been recognised as one of the defining features of the Eastern European Jewish experience. In this lecture, François Guesnet will first reflect on the origin of some of the most salient features of the Jewish community in Eastern Europe, such as the strong position of the community board (kahal) and regional and national representation in Councils (va'adim), in the medieval and early modern period. He will then explore to which degree this specific encounter shaped ideas and practices about political leadership and agency in later periods.
11 January 2021, 9:30am - 5pm - with JW3, Embassy of the Republic of Poland, the Polish Cultural Institute and UCL's Institute of Jewish Studies, and on zoom:
Launch of POLIN vol. 33, "Jewish Religious Life in Eastern Europe" The conference will engage with the rich offerings of this most recent volume of Polin. Studies in Polish Jewry, edited by Ada Rapoport-Albert – who passed away prematurely earlier this year – and Marcin Wodziński, adopts a fresh understanding of Jewish religious life in Poland. It probes new approaches to the history of hasidism, women’s religious practice, and a focus on the beliefs and practices of ordinary people. Reappraisals of religious responses to secularization and modernity, both liberal and Orthodox, offer more nuanced insights into this key issue. Other research areas represented here include the material history of Jewish religious life in eastern Europe and the shift of emphasis from theology to praxis in the search for the defining quality of religious experience. Not to be missed!
20 January 2021, on zoom, with UCL IJS:
Antisemitism in the Bolshevik Revolution - with Dr Brendan McGeever, and Dr. Elissa Bemporad responding.
In his pioneering study Antisemitism in the Bolshevik Revolution, recently published in a paperback edition by Cambridge University Press), Brendan McGeever explores the significance of antisemitism in the tumultuous period of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War, and in which ways both Jewish activists and the ruling Communist Party confronted it.
Dr Brendan McGeever is Lecturer in the Sociology of Racialization and Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London and a Research Associate at the Pears Institute. His book Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2019) was awarded the 2020 Reginald Zelnik Book Prize for History, and an ‘Honourable Mention’ for the W. Bruce Lincoln Prize. He is a 2019 BBC/AHRC ‘New Generation Thinker’. Dr. Elissa Bemporad is the author of Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk (Indiana University Press, 2013), winner of the National Jewish Book Award and of the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, and finalist of the Jordan Schnitzer Prize in Modern Jewish History.
9 February 2021, 6:30pm , on zoom, with UCL IJS and the Ukrainian Institute, London:
Dvorah Vogel: Yiddish Modernist Poetry - with Dr Anastasya Lyubas, and Dr Iryna Starovoyt, and with Dr Uilleam Blacker, Chair. Dvorah Vogel (1900-1942) was an often overlooked but important figure in the constellation of avantguarde European writing of the interwar period. She considered Yiddish as central vehicle for her modernist writing experiments. Anastasya Lyubas (Binghampton College) introduces us to the strikingly original prose experiments inspired by photography and film and her Cubist poetry. Dr Anastasya Lyubas, Ph.D. and MA, in Comparative Literature, Binghamton University; and MA in Linguistics and BA in English Language and Literature, Lviv National University, Ukraine. Her doctoral dissertation was on “Language and Plasticity in Debora Vogel’s Modernist Poetics,” and her postdoctoral work advances plasticity as a theoretical and philosophical framework in the work of Debora Vogel, Gertrude Stein and Elizabeth Smart, in Toronto. Iryna Starovoyt is a poet, essayist, and Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University. Born in Lviv, Ukraine, her poetry debut book No Longer Limpid (1997) placed her within the new generation of writers since Ukraine's independence. Dr Uilleam Blacker is lecturer in comparative East European culture, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. His research interests are the literatures and cultures of Ukraine and Poland and cultural memory in eastern Europe. He has published widely on Ukrainian, Polish and Russian literature and culture, and has also translated the work of several contemporary Ukrainian writers.
23 February 2021, 6pm, on zoom, with UCL IJS:
The Legacy of the Shtetl: Investigating Polish-Belarusian-Ukrainian Borderlands - with Dr Magdalena Waligórska (Humboldt University, Berlin), and Dr Natalia Romik (Warsaw), respondent. Magdalena Waligórska takes us on a journey to the Polish-Ukrainian-Belorusian borderlands where she explores small towns which had a predominantly Jewish population before the Second World War and the Holocaust. Here, Jewish property both entirely fell under the control of the new ethnic majority and remained a “disinherited heritage” (Tunbridge and Ashworth) that continues to cause dissonance and psychological discomfort to its current “heirs.” The unsettling presence of Jewish ruins, resurfacing human remains, walled-in objects, collapsing cellars, and the recycled tombstones constitutes an “intrusion of the past into the present” (Rothberg) that, decades after the war, still demands action and results in different local responses. The respondent, Natalia Romik, is an artist, urban historian, and architect from Warsaw who has undertaken similar but different explorations of the Jewish heritage in small Polish towns. Magdalena Waligórska is a cultural historian and sociologist; fields of interest include contemporary Polish and Belarusian history, Jewish heritage and popular culture, Jewish/non-Jewish relations, music and identity, and memory studies. Natalia Romik, MA, University of Warsaw; Ph.D., Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, UK, on Post-Jewish architecture of memory within former Eastern European shtetls. Natalia Romik has published several articles on Jewish architecture, including Nothing is going to change?
9 March 2021, 6pm, on zoom, with UCL IJS:
The Jews in the Band: Anders Army's Special Troups Speaker: Dr Beth Holmgren (Duke University) and Professor Antony Polonsky (Brandeis University) Beth Holmgren shares fascinating insights about Jews in the entertainment troupes of the Anders Army. She will focus on the history of the most enduring product of a cooperation between Alfred Schütz, a Jewish composer, and Feliks Konarski, a writer, who together created the iconic 'Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino' (The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino), memorializing Polish losses in the taking of the monastery of this fortress held by German troups. Professor Beth Holmgren, full professor of Polish Studies and Russian Studies, Duke University, has published widely on Polish literature, theatre, popular culture, and film; Russian literature, film, and women's studies; and Russian and Polish artists and performers in the North American diaspora. Her recent scholarship focuses on Polish Jewish cultural history of the interwar period. Professor Antony Polonsky, Emeritus Professor, Brandeis University, and founder of the IPJS, was Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies since 1999, an appointment held jointly with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Warsaw, the Institute for the Human Sciences, Vienna and the University of Cape Town, Skirball visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Senior Associate Member of Saint Antony’s College, Oxford and Honorary Research Fellow at University College, London.
16 March 2021, 9:30am - 5pm, on zoom, with the Wiener Library:
Symposium in Honor of Antony Polonsky The Holocaust in Eastern Europe: Sources, Memory, Politics. Symposium in Honor of Antony Polonsky. This symposium will bring together senior scholars of the Holocaust with the authors of significant recent studies in this area. It will reflect on archaeological investigations, the voice of witnesses and survivors, but also present-day contextualisations of engaging with the mass murder of the Jews of Europe. It is organised in cooperation with the Wiener Library on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Professor Antony Polonsky. Organisers: Dr Michael Fleming (Polish University Abroad, London) and Prof François Guesnet, (UCL HJS), IPJS.
27 April 2021, 9:30am - 5pm, on zoom, with the JW3:
3rd Jewish Roots Workshop - Deep Roots. The reconstruction of family histories in Eastern Europe going back many generations. In this third edition of engaging with the rich and complex genealogical legacy of Eastern European Jewish communities, we plant to focus on the reconstruction of family histories reaching back many generations, and to hear from those who have successfully uncovered their deep roots in Eastern Europe. The workshop will also allow to discuss with professional genealogists and expert historians how such a quest can be undertaken. Organisers: Susan Storring and François Guesnet Ticket prices will be announced closer to the event..