This event is a part of YIVO's series Knowledge Under Siege, which presents recent scholarship from Poland about the Holocaust and antisemitism. Each event features scholars discussing a recent book they worked on.
Elzbieta Janicka and Tomasz Zukowski, Philo-Semitic Violence. Poland’s Jewish past in new Polish narratives (Landham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021).
“Philo-Semitic Violence” examines phenomena termed a “new opening in Polish-Jewish relations,” thought to stem from sociocultural change and the posthumous inclusion of those subjected to antisemitic violence. Elzbieta Janicka and Tomasz Zukowski investigate the terms and conditions of this inclusion whose object is an imagined collective Jewish figure. Different creators and media, same friendly intentions, same warm reception beyond class and political cleavages, regardless of gender and age. The made-to-measure Jewish figure confirms and legitimizes the majority narrative—especially about Polish stances and behaviors during the Holocaust. The consequence: aggression toward anyone who dares to interrupt the narcissistic self-staging of Polish virtue. “Philo-Semitic Violence” exposes the Polish ethnoreligious identity regime that privileges the concern for the collective image over reality. Janicka and Zukowski’s inquiry shows how patterns of exclusion and violence are reproduced when antisemitism—with its Christian sources and community-building function—is not openly problematized, reassessed, and rejected in light of its consequences and the basic principle of equal rights.
About the Speakers
Elzbieta Janicka is a historian of literature interested in the identity and community building function of Polish antisemitism. She is the author of the books: “Szluka czy Naród?” [Art or the Nation?] (2006) on a Polish poet Andrzej Trzebinski, member of a Polish fascist organization during WWII and “Festung Warschau” [Fortress Warsaw] (2011) on present-day symbolic topography of the former Warsaw ghetto area. She recently authored “Herbarium Polonorum (Heimatphotographie)” (2020) and co-authored “This Was Not America. A wrangle through Jewish-Polish-American history” (Academic Studies Press, 2022; with Michael Steinlauf). She works at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Tomasz Zukowski is a historian of literature interested in the identity issues at the point of convergence of minorities and the dominant group, and the related discursive mechanisms in the context of the Holocaust. He recently published: “Wielki retusz. Jak zapomnielismy, ze Polacy zabijali Zydów” [The Great whitewash. How we forgot that the Poles were killing Jews] (2018) and “Pod presja. Co mówia o Zagladzie ci, którym odbieramy glos” [Under the pressure. What do those we silence say about the Holocaust?] (2021). Co-author and co-editor of “The Holocaust Bystander in Polish Culture, 1942-2015. The Story of Innocence” (Palgrave, 2021). He works at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Ticket Info: Free; register at yivo.org/KnowledgeUnderSiege5