Regional professionals, American activists, and the Iron Curtain: Transnational memory work during the Cold War in the Jewish neighbourhood of Kraków

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In the search for the roots of the cosmopolitanization of Polish memory in the first decade of the twenty-first century, this article looks past the chronological boundaries of post-socialist Poland. It identifies regional memory professionals as the key “scale” in transnational memory work. It demonstrates that the present state of Jewish sites of Kraków is the outcome of transnational work conducted from as early as the 1970s, and it is the effect of competition and collaboration among Jews from the American diaspora, Polish Jews, and Polish regional memory professionals. In a field regulated by the Polish socialist state, diaspora Jews tried to impose on their Polish collaborators their vision of Jewish sites. Polish Jews fought to protect those same sites as a key component of their identity work. Prompted by local and transnational Jewish pressure, ethnically Polish professionals discovered the Jewish past for themselves. They began by protecting Jewish sites, later turning them into valuable parts of the heritage of
Poland and, eventually, into a constitutive element of Polish heritage. This article
claims that it is precisely regional memory professionals who are the key to transnational memory work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Slavonic Papers
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 Feb 2021


  • transnational memory
  • scales of memory
  • Communism
  • Poland
  • jewish past

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