University of Rochester

EVENT: Polish and American Scholars Gather in Warsaw to Analyze How Memories about Race and Nationalism Can Be Distorted, Forgotten

February 23, 2005

The American Studies Center at Warsaw University and the University of Rochester will address some of the most intractable issues that strain relations among people—race, nationalism and how they’re remembered—during two days of discussions in Warsaw, Poland, on March 7 and 8.

Scholars from both universities and other American and Polish institutions will speak on the cross-cultural theme of “Comparative Perspectives on Race, Nationalism and the Politics of Memory: Poland and the United States.” They will focus on such topics as German war crimes in Poland during World War II, slavery reparations and American democracy, memories of Poland’s 1980-81 Solidarity movement, and the lynching of Emmett Till in the American South in 1955.

Funds from the U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program are supporting the conference and two years of academic collaborations between the University of Rochester and Warsaw University. Ewa K. Hauser, director of the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester, and Zbigniew Lewicki, professor and director of Warsaw’s American Studies Center, are coordinating the Fulbright projects. Hauser and Fredrick Harris, associate professor and director of the Center for the Study of African-American Politics at the University of Rochester, will co-host the Warsaw conference.

Two days of speakers and discussions will be opened by Piotr Weglenski, rector of Warsaw University, and include presentations by U.S. faculty from DePaul University, Duke University, Northwestern University, Princeton University, University of Chicago, University of Virginia, and University of San Diego. Speakers on Polish issues are affiliated with the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, UAM University in Poznan, Polish Academy of Sciences, Auschwitz Museum, German Historical Institute, and Universität Bremen.

On March 9, the Rochester-Warsaw project continues with lectures on minority representation in U.S. politics, African-American activism since the Civil Rights Movement, Jews and Catholics in Boston, and the Harlem Renaissance by University of Rochester faculty members Gerald Gamm, Fredrick Harris, Valeria Sinclair-Chapman, and Jeffrey Tucker. July ’64, a documentary by Carvin Eison, associate professor of communication at SUNY Brockport, on Rochester’s race riots, will have its Warsaw premiere with two showings.