STCA: Kazimierz – Nov. 15, 24 & Dec. 4 – Join Us!!

As part of the STCAs organized by the Centre for European Studies and the MA in Euroculture, the visit to the Old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, is an essential element of the study programmes of our institute. It is designed to explore and analyse an urban district through an academic approach keeping in sight current affairs such as the role and activities of cultural institutions, government and the community.

Students are expected to incorporate to their analytical scope, concepts, theories and ideas related to themes such as culture, heritage, urban space, identity building, history and memory. The visit to cultural institutions and the guided tours and activities intend to be an introduction to the world of issues that lay within the social fabric of the place. It is only the beginning of a much longer study which we hope to encourage.

*This semester the programme will be divided in three different dates, all of which will focus on a different dimension of Kazimierz.

STCA Programme. Kazimierz, Kraków. 

Thursday, November 15
This session will be guided by Prof. Weber from the Centre for European Studies

3:20 PM – Meeting outside the Rema Synagogue (next to Szara Restaurant in Szeroka Street in Kazimierz)

3:30 PM – Entrance to  the Synagogue
* It is important that you arrive on time since the street door may be lock after the entrance.

The field trip will continue for two hours until 5:30pm and will include visits to three different synagogues.
In one of the synagogues a rabbi will meet with the students for a brief talk and questions-answers session.

** Men should arrive with a hat of some kind (any kind); women may or may not wear a hat, as they prefer.

Saturday, November 24

9:30 AM – Optional morning meeting for coffee at Le Couleurs Cafe in Plac Nowy.

10:15 AM – Visit at the Galicia Jewish Museum
Tour of the permanent exhibition & meeting with project management staff

12:30 PM –  Lunch at Bagel Mama

2:15 PM – Group Activity TBA

4:00 PM – Visit at Schindler’s Factory Museum
Tour of the permanent exhibition and meeting with project management staff

Tuesday, December 4

12:30 PM – Visit to the Jewish Community Centre
Meeting outside the building (24 Miodowa Street)
The meeting will feature a talk by the director of the JCC followed by an open discussion.



Kazimierz STCA Information Supplement

The Old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, is one of Krakow’s historical sites part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was founded on the 27th February, 1335 by Kazimierz the Great. Today, as one of the most visited Jewish-heritage places, it houses important cultural institutions such as the Galicia Jewish Museum, the Center for Jewish Culture and the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, inaugurated in 2008 by Prince Charles. Since 1988 it has also been the host of the Jewish Culture Festival which summons artists, musicians and intellectuals from around the globe in order to portray a particular aspect of Jewish culture. Synagogues such as the Old Synagogue (Stara Synagoga), now a historical museum, and the Tempel Synagogue, reflect and conserve a tradition which has long been a part of European history. In the last two decades the quarter has undergone enormous transformations, from a neglected, obscure and even insecure district to a trendy-bohemian, vivid, commercial one. Plac Nowy, one of the main squares of the district has become a hub of night-life, surrounded by bars, clubs and restaurants. It is as if two hearts pound in Kazimierz: one solemnly pumps tradition by imagining and recreating it; another one hastily pumps amusement and pleasure. At times their veins and arteries seem to intertwine and their rhythms, by no means identical are evidence of the dichotomies of the place.

Kazimierz is the subject of a controversial academic and intellectual debate on historical authenticity which incorporates discourses on culture, heritage, identity, memory and urban space. It is the epicentre of battles between imagination and memory, conservation and reinvention, identification and estrangement, absence and presence, reconstruction and deconstruction of identities, Jewishness and non-Jewishness, inheritance and disinheritance. It is a ground for sociological and philosophical endeavours to emerge. Its Jewish history and heritage is unquestionable, however its representation has been rendered problematic. The use and influence of power (economic, political) to (re)present and muscle in a vision which not often corresponds to a historic-reality, the commercialization and commodification of a culture for touristy consumption, the revitalization of public space with disregard for tangible or intangible heritage, and the absence of a real, local, legitimate depositary of tradition (a considerable population of Jews), are some issues which put into question the value of the preservation, conservation and perpetuation of the Jewish heritage in Kraków. How does this new representation affects the identity of a group and a place? Who must/should decide, and under which criteria, what is to be preserved and represented? How is history and memory encrusted into the urban space? Or is the urban space, through its usage and transformations, that encrusts itself into history and serves remembrance? How are memory and history used in the local representation of Jewishness? What are the most palpable symbols in Kazimierz and what do they signify? How can the fidelity of a culture be maintained? Is tourism an undesired element? And how does it affect cultural representations and heritage? How should cultural policies regulate/guide historical and cultural representations and their relation to economy and tourism? What is the role of the non-Jewish community inside Kazimierz? Do power relations arise in this context? If so, how and of what kind? How are traumatic heritage and tragic history portrayed in Kazimierz?

“Weekly markets were instigated, and very soon the institution of “wolnica” meat markets was introduced. This designation (wolnica, from wolność – freedom) indicated that in a given place at specified times meat could be sold freely not only by the local members of the butchers’ guild but also by incomers from surrounding villages. A wolnica meat market of this sort was held every Saturday for most of the year on the marketplace in Kazimierz. The present-day name of that square – Plac Wolnica – is derived from that custom.”

*Małecki, Jan M. A History of Krakow for Everyone. (p.55) Kraków, 2008.

(JMSG, Euroculture)

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