CFP - Eastern European Jewish Affairs Special Issue: New Jewish Museums in post-Communist Europe

Eastern European Jewish Affairs

Special Issue: “New Jewish Museums in post-Communist Europe” edited by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Olga Gershenson

Call for Papers

Post-Communist Eastern Europe is experiencing a museum boom, and Jewish museums and Holocaust memorials are among them. The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow and Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw are prime examples of this trend, but there are many others. For decades, the subject of the Holocaust, and Jewish history in general, were largely off-limits in the Eastern bloc. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and fall of the Berlin Wall, there is a revival of Jewish culture and institutions in Eastern Europe and growing interest in Jewish subjects on the part of non-Jews, paradoxically, in the near absence of Jews. New museums and memorials are part of this trend.

Some of these new museum projects are ambitious. They may be financed at a level of millions of dollars, from both private and public funds. They may be initiated and supported by local and international Jewish communities, as well as by local authorities. They often engage both local and international academics and exhibition designers. Their core exhibitions may present the full sweep of Jewish history in a given place, including the Holocaust and postwar period. They may start from a collection of objects or, in the newest and largest examples, create multimedia narrative exhibitions.

In light of these new developments, we invite submissions to this special issue on Jewish museums in post-Communist Europe that explore the place and meanings of such museums in Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Moldova, East Germany, and beyond. Possible topics include:

  • Museums as agents of transformation in post-Communist societies, including their role in national narratives and civil society. What exactly constitutes a Jewish museum in post-Communist Europe? How do Jewish museums respond to the opportunities and challenges of the post-Communist period?
  • Evolution and transformation of Jewish museums that existed before and after World War II. What is their relationship to “new generation” museums and exhibitions?
  • Issues and debates regarding the relationship of the Jewish historical narrative to wider local, national, and international narratives in a museum’s exhibition. What is highlighted and what omitted? How does the exhibition deal with competing narratives? Who are the victims, the perpetrators, the heroes? Who tells the story for whom and who is in control of the narrative?
  • Relationship of Jewish museums to Holocaust history, memory, memorials, and commemoration. What does it mean to create Jewish museums, as opposed to Holocaust museums, memorials, and tolerance centers, particularly in the post-war, post-genocide, post-Communist era?
  • Issues of reception, including controversies and reactions in local Jewish communities, national and international media, and on the part of visitors and general public.
  • Jewish museums and their stakeholders – city, state, donors, Jewish communities (local, national, international), and audiences (local, Jewish, and international).
  • Poetics and politics of exhibitions – old and new approaches to exhibitions and their responsibility to those whose story they tell.
  • Collections: how they were formed, to whom the objects belong, and how museums deal with issues of provenance and restitution.
  • Relation of Jewish museums to networks of Jewish heritage sites and routes linked to religious pilgrimage, Holocaust commemoration, and genealogical quests.
  • Museum architecture and location – site specificity, new architecture, adaptation of pre-existing buildings, with or without a connection to Jewish history.

To initiate submission, please send a proposal, consisting of TITLE, ABSTRACT, and AUTHOR’S BIO to the editors at and at Proposal must be received via email no later than March 30, 2014. Approved proposals will advance to the next stage and will be expected to be submitted as completed articles in January, 2015. We encourage prospective authors to contact the editors with questions about submissions.

This special issue will also include book reviews on related subjects. Call for book reviews will be circulated separately.

You can also view and download the call here if you have a scribd account.