Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow: From heritage of absence to spectacular heritage?
Anna Niedźwiedź (Jagiellonian University)
Paper short abstract:
The Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, organized annually in the city's historical Jewish district, is an event linked to the creation of specific heritage geographies. Experiences of its participants and organizers will be studied through the concepts of heritage of absence and spectacular heritage
Paper long abstract:
In 1988 a small event dedicated to "reminding the public about the Jewish history of Poland and Jewish contribution to development of our country, its culture and society" was organized in Krakow's Kazimierz district. Kazimierz - until the WWII one of the most important centers of Polish Jews - was at that time in a state of ruin and neglect. The absence of its past inhabitants was visible through the empty windows of old tenements, the synagogues' closed gates, abandoned courtyards, overgrown cemeteries. Physical absence was in consonance with the absence of Jews in Polish history books, school programs and the absence of "Jewish things[…]in a cultural social dispute" of the time. Yet, the 1988 event attracted a significant audience. In the following years it turned into an annual 10-day long "Jewish Culture Festival". Today it is one of the most important events in the city, recognized in the whole country and by the Jewish people in Israel and diaspora. Originally organized by two local Polish activists, who got interested in "Jewish culture" not known to them from family homes nor from school, it is now co-organized by Poles and Jews from all over the world. The last 30 years has also brought an immense transformation of the Kazimierz district itself, with its refurbishment, the creation of a "Jewish culture route", the introduction of museums and the revival of Jewish religious life. I will analyze experiences related to the JCF through the concepts of heritage of absence and spectacular heritage.
Heritage geographies in the age of mobility