From the July 2017 Desktop News | Anthropology and New College professor Dr. Marysia Galbraith recently returned from a trip to Poland, where she was awarded the Bronislaw Malinowski Social Sciences Award by The Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, or PIASA, at the organization’s annual conference.
Galbraith was honored with the award for her book, Being and Becoming European in Poland: European Integration and Self-Identity. She started writing the book in 2011 after conducting 20 years of research, following Poles from late adolescence into adulthood to find out about Polish national identity and European integration from their perspective.
“Receiving this award from this organization has special meaning for me, not only because it is named after one of my anthropological heroes, Bronislaw Malinowski, but also because of what it would have meant to my mother,” Galbraith said. “PIASA was founded during World War II, as part of Poland’s effort to maintain its culture while under German occupation. During that same time, my mother was living in the capital city of Warsaw and serving as a courier for Poland’s Home Army, the underground forces working to liberate the country. She passed away just days after I found out that I received the award.”
Galbraith said her Polish mother was her first connection to Poland. When Galbraith started graduate school in anthropology, she was initially interested in New Guinea in the hopes that should could follow Malinowski’s footsteps, but soon she began asking more and more questions about Poland.
“The whole world changed, and the Eastern European countries rejected communism and freed themselves from the influence of the Soviet Union,” Galbraith said. “Poland and the other former Soviet Bloc countries became the new frontier for anthropological research. Few anthropologists had done research there, and the whole system changed—leaving many questions about what happened and what would come next. This was in 1989. I started to learn Polish, and I have been doing research there ever since.”
Now, Galbraith is looking into Jewish heritage in Poland. She spent 10 days there when she went to receive her award, and took the extra time to visit archives and attend the beginning of the Jewish Culture Festival held in Krakow.