Anthropologist Awarded Fulbright Grant

Dr. Marysia Galbraith
Dr. Marysia Galbraith

From the June 2014 Desktop News A UA researcher will spend the next year examining the resurgence of interest in Jewish culture in Poland with the goal of understanding the space Jews fill in Polish history.

Dr. Marysia Galbraith, associate professor in New College and the Department of Anthropology, will spend the 2014-2015 school year teaching and conducting research in Poland as a Fulbright scholar. The grant supports nine months of research and teaching in Poland, though Galbraith will remain in Poland for two additional months to continue her research as part of a grant from UA’s Research Grants Committee. During her stay, she will be affiliated with Adam Mickiewicz University, which boasts one of the most prestigious anthropology departments in Poland.

“I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in Poland,” Galbraith said. “Being a Fulbright scholar opens doors; I will have a university affiliation and opportunities to establish collaborative relationships with Polish scholars and share my research with them. Poland is like a second home to me. If I add up all my research trips over the past 20-plus years, I have spent four years there. Being able to communicate in another language is also something I value. It opens up another way of thinking and helps me connect with another part of myself. I’m also excited to be traveling with my 10-year-old son. He has been to Poland several times, but this time he will be attending school and learning the language. It means a lot to share with him the place my mother grew up.”

This is the third Fulbright grant Galbraith has received. Her first was awarded in the early 1990s from the Institute of International Education to conduct research for her dissertation, which focused on the national identity of Polish youth during the post-communist transformation. She received her second in 2005 to continue this study, focusing on the added dimension of Poland’s integration into the European Union.

Her current project recognizes  the often forgotten but vital Jewish communities that thrived in Poland for hundreds of years before nearly all of its 3 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Galbraith said she will use ethnographic methods to examine Jewish heritage projects like museums, festivals and commemorations that try to revive the memory of the life and death of these communities. She will interview surviving members of the older generation who remember what life was like for Jews in Poland, memory workers involved in retelling the past in heritage projects, and “accidental witnesses,” or residents who just happen to live near commemorative sites.

She will also investigate her own family history. She is working on a memoir about her discovery and recovery of her own Polish-Jewish heritage. The project will also involve teaching seminars at Adam Mickiewicz University that apply contemporary anthropological scholarship about ethnicity, globalization, European integration and heritage to specific cases within Central and Eastern Europe.

Her book Being and Becoming European in Poland: European Integration and Self-Identity, published by Anthem Press this month, culminates her 20-year longitudinal study of Polish national identity, post-communist transformation and European integration. Her articles have appeared in the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, Anthropological Quarterly, Ethnologia Europaea, Ethos and the Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe.