Remaking Jewish sociality in contemporary Poland: haunting legacies, global connections.

  • Jan Lorenz

Student thesis: Phd


The Holocaust and post-war anti-Semitism-propelled migration changed the face of Poland, a country that for centuries has been the heartland of the Jewish diaspora. Remnants of the Polish Jewry that did not emigrate, regardless of whether they considered themselves Poles, Poles of Jewish descent or Polish Jews, often felt fearful about speaking of their ancestry, let alone acting upon it. Jewish organizations and social life did not disappear, but religious congregations in particular gradually diminished in number and activity. Post-socialist Poland has become an arena of profound transformation of Jewish communal life, fostered by stakeholders with distinct agendas and resources: empowered and politically emancipated Jewish Religious Communities, now-marginalized secular organizations of the communist era, a nascent generation of Polish Jewish activists and volunteers, and transnational Jewish non-governmental organizations.My thesis explores Polish Jewish communal life and experiences of being and becoming Jewish. It is a study after the 'revival', but revealing its looming presence in unsolved predicaments over a Jewish future, global structural dependencies, and temporal dynamics of programs of socialization. I argue that the post-socialist reality not only witnessed the coming of a new Polish Jewish generation, but also the emergence of a new sociality, shaped in two decades of continuous friction between ontologies, agendas and hopes originating in different locations within, and on different scales of, the Polish Jewish contemporaneity. This new Polish Jewish reality invites us to rethink the impact of globalization on the Jewish diaspora in Eastern Europe, and also offers a new perspective on the role of global NGOs in the contemporary world.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAngela De Souza Torresan (Supervisor)


  • space
  • Jews
  • trauma
  • haunting
  • becoming
  • belonging
  • Jewish
  • Poland
  • diaspora
  • globalization
  • identity

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