OTHERS OR FOLKS? JEWS IN THE COLLECTIVE MEMORY OF THE INHABITANTS OF BIALYSTOK REGION (Obcy, czy nasi? Zydzi w pamieci zborowej mieszkanców bialostocczyzny)
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The article attempts to explain the phenomenon of the return, after decades of collective amnesia, of the memory of Podlasie Jews to the public life of the citizens of this province. This 'return of memory' can be seen in many spheres of life of the local communities and regional society: from school curricula, through festivals, official celebrations, to turning the rich Jewish past of the region into a tourist attraction. What makes this phenomenon very interesting is the fact that the 'natural subjects' of this memory - Podlasie Jews - almost do not exist here. There is no Jewish community or Jewish social, cultural or religious life in the region anymore, and in the majority of cases the 'memory revival' is only possible thanks to the efforts of the non-Jewish activists and organizations. Why is the region facing the return of the past of Podlasie Jews now - almost two decades after the democratic change in Poland? The author suggests several factors, which are, among others: the democratization of the Polish society combined with the pluralization of the paths of remembering, the changes of Poles' self-perception, the revival of interest in the local past, the changes of school curricula to more open and multicultural narratives, the generational change and the intensification of contacts between Podlasie inhabitants and the Jewish Diaspora. All these have made it possible that more and more often the local Jews who lived here for centuries are, like in the research being done by the author, referred to as 'Our Jews', the folks.
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