Accepted Paper:

Singing Songs of the Jewish Underworld of Pre-WW2 Poland: Re-telling the story of the urban poor  


Izabella Goldstein (The University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation is about singing a little-known pre-World War Two Jewish repertoire as a means of resisting predominant orientalist, simplified and politicised narratives which surround both pre-war and contemporary Jewish community of Poland. It includes a paper and a vocal presentation.

Paper long abstract:

After years of silence during the communist rule, since 1989 Jewish culture has been every year more broadly presented in Poland. Today it is most visible through Jewish festivals which take place all over Poland. The most described of them is the Jewish Festival of Cracow. Although greatly popular, the festival (and its surroundings) has attracted a lot of media and academic critique. Concerns are voiced over what seems to be appropriation of Jewish culture by the non-Jewish Poles, kitsch aesthetics of many performances and duplication of stereotypes.

This presentation is part of my larger project which explores, both theoretically and through singing, songs of Jewish thieves and prostitutes from early 20th century Poland. These songs have been originally collected to bring to light the fate of many from the deprived (Jewish) communities and have been (re-)discovered only recently. In my research, through a series of concerts for Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, I explore the potential which this repertoire has for (re)telling the his/herstory of the Jewish community of Poland, beyond the predominant orientalist, simplified and politicised narratives.

Panel P094
Creative Art/Anthropology Praxis as Revelation and Resistance