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
- 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.
- Museum architecture and location - site specificity, new
architecture, adaptation of pre-existing buildings, with or without a
connection to Jewish history.
- Relation of Jewish museums to networks of Jewish heritage sites
and routes linked to religious pilgrimage, Holocaust commemoration, and
To initiate submission, please send a proposal, consisting of title,
abstract, and author's bio to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org and at
email@example.com 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
This special issue will also include book reviews on related subjects. Call
for book reviews will be circulated separately.