International Conference Jewish Ethnography and Folkloristics in Poland before 1945

Before the Second World War, Jewish life and culture in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe were studied by academics from different countries and study areas, for example by Henryk Lew, Max Grünwald, Beniamin Wolf Segel, Regina Lilientalowa, Yehuda Leyb Cahan, Giza Frenkel, Noah Prilutski, Alfred Landau, Max Weinreich, Saul Ginzburg and Peter Marek, Shmuel Lehman and Shloyme Bastomski. They published in various languages: in German – in magazines like “Am-Urquell”, “Globus” and “Mitteilungen zur Jüdichen Volkskunde”; in Polish – in “Izraelita”, “Wisła” and “Lud”; in Russian – in “Voshod” and “Evreyskaya Starina”; and in Yiddish – in “Yidishe Filologye” and “Filologishe Shriften.” We aim to restore the awareness of what these academics, coming from different linguistic areas, have achieved, and thus present the full picture of how Jewish ethnography developed in Poland and in Central and Eastern Europe.

The reason why the State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw is undertaking this initiative is the fact that it was precisely here, at the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries, that the group of folkore experts publishing in “Izraelita” and “Wisła”, led by Henryk Lew, used to meet. The section devoted to Jewish culture was an important part of the Museum’s collection, which was expanded by, for example, Henryk Lew, Regina Lilientalowa and Ignacy Bernstein. During the Second World War the Museum’s collection was completely destroyed.

Remembering about this important event in its history, the State Ethnographic Museum aims to recreate the Jewish collection by acquiring items still surviving in Poland, as well as by reconstructing them basing on existing documents or creating replicas of selected artifacts found in other museums.

We hope that by participating in this conference we will together join the initiatives to restore the memory of the academics who studied Jewish culture in Poland and neighbouring countries.

Conference topics:

1. General topics

  • state of studies;
  • terminologiy;
  • Jewish ethnography periodization; - main research problems.

2. Study areas and the academics’ profiles

A. Study areas:

  • various origins of Jewish ethnography (the connections between the emerging discipline and history, philology, geography, etc.);
  • language as the indicator of belonging to a study area (Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, Hebrew); other indicators;
  • genesis of individual areas, groups, programmes;
  • organizational structures: organization and institutionalization of studies;
  • political and national aspect of ethnographic studies;
  • research methodology used in individual areas (theory and practice);
  • achievements of each group, publishing results and gathering materials: magazines, conference papers, archives, museums and libraries.

B. Profiles of the academics:

Henryk Lew, Beniamin Wolf Segel, Regina Lilientalowa, Giza Frenkel, Max Grünwald, Alfred Landau, Ignacy Bernstein, Moshe Berlin, Semen An-ski, Noah Prilutski, Shloyme Bastomski, Shmuel Lehman, Max Weinreich and others.

3. Study areas, research topics

  • verbal folklore and music: songs, poems, counting-out rhymes, jokes, riddles, games;- material culture: clothes, everyday life itmes, toys, instruments, folk art, architecture, sacred and graveyard art;
  • ritual year customs;
  • human cycle of life customs;
  • medicine and magic.

4. Folklore vs. war and history

  • studies of Jewish folklore during wars and revolutions; - studies of Jewish folklore during the Holocaust;
  • the presence of historical issues in folklore.

5. Contexts

  • connections between Jewish ethnography in Poland and other countries;
  • the place of Jewish ethnography in Polish ethnography and in international studies; - relations between academics from different study areas.

6. Borderlines

  • borderlines of disciplines (ethnography, anthropology, history, literature studies, linguis- tics, art and architecture history);
  • borderlines of cultures (Jewish and Polish, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Russian, German and others);
  • borderlines of creative domains (folk culture and popular and high culture; oral and writ- ten traditions);
  • between science and art (folkloristics and folklorism).

The conference will be held in Polish and English. Papers and discussions will be interpreted simultaneously.

Please send your applications before 31 May 2015 to, with “conference application” as the e-mail’s subject. The application should include information about the speaker (academic title, name, surname, research facility), the title and abstract of the paper (up to 1,500 characters) and contact data (e-mail, phone number). Notification of accep- tance will be e-mailed by 30 June 2015.

The papers will be published in a bi-lingual periodic magazine “The New Ethnography” late in 2015. For this reason please send your papers before 25 August 2015. We reserve the right to se- lect the texts. “The New Ethnography” has been published since 2009 and awards points in accor- dance with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education: 4.

The Organising Committee

Adam Czyżewski, Ph.D

Marta Elas

Piotr Grącikowski, Ph.D (chairperson) Anna Kolczyńska

Dominika Leszczyńska (secretary) Paweł Matwiejczuk, Ph.D

Kamila Pściuk-Gogolewska Aleksander Robotycki

Klara Sielicka-Baryłka

1 September 2015 - 3 September 2015