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"Intersectional Objects" that bind and divide communities: curating an exhibit of Polish-made figurines depicting Jews

"Intersectional Objects" that bind and divide communities: curating an exhibit of Polish-made figurines depicting Jews

Erica Lehrer, University of Concordia, Motreal
Curating Memories in Conflict: New Ethnography in an Old Museum

Monday, April 20, 2015
12:00 - 1:30pm
Weisman Art Museum
free and open to the public

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Anthropologist Erica Lehrer will discuss a participatory exhibition of Polish-made figurines depicting Jews that she curated in Kraków's Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in summer 2013. The exhibit grew out of research for her recent book Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places (Indiana, 2013). In the broadest terms, the exhibition took up the question of how to deal with painfully disputed subject matter: How can one productively exhibit objects whose existence or the meanings one community promotes are deeply objectionable to another community? Lehrer will discuss Poland's Jewish figurines as "intersectional objects" that both bind and divide communities, and suggest their potential as catalysts for critical memory work that transcends the terms of today's defensive public debate about Poland's Jewish past. She will also address Poland's changing museum landscape as a barometer of a disputed national imaginary.

Erica Lehrer is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in the departments of History and Sociology‑Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. She is the author of Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places, and co‑editor of Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland, and Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places. As a curator, she produced the 2013 exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy: Poland's Jewish Figurines in Kraków's Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum, and published the accompanying catalog Lucky Jew.

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study, the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.