4.03.2021 - online

Book Talks: Pogroms as historical agents

Artur Markowski will discuss his recent publications in conversation with Anna Cichopek-Gajraj and Jeffrey Kopstein. Antony Polonsky, Chief Historian of POLIN Museum’s Global Education Outreach Program, is the host of the GEOP series of “What's New, What's Next? Book Talks” and will moderate the meeting. 

  • 4 March (Thursday) 20.00 CET/ 2:00PM EST / 11:00AM PST / 9:00PM Israel
  • Zoom, registration >>
  • In English

Why do pogroms loom so large in historical consciousness? The violence was spectacular, but pogroms were relatively infrequent, and most people were neither perpetrators nor victims. Moreover, collective violence against Jews took many forms, not all of them pogroms. Three questions animate today’s conversation. First, if “pogrom” is such an elastic category, why do historians continue to use it as an analytical concept? Second, under what circumstances do ordinary people resort to collective violence in the face of ethnic conflict? Third, why does collective violence against Jews erupt in some locations, but not others?

Join the conversation with Artur Markowski, author of two recently published books on pogroms in Polish lands during the 19th and 20th centuries. Both books consider in detail precisely what took place in specific places, take issue with how such events have been studied in the past, and offer new insights into this emotionally charged subject. He will be joined by Jeffrey Kopstein, Anna Cichopek-Gajraj, and Antony Polonsky.

Artur Markowski, Kamil Kijek, and Konrad Zieliński (eds.) „Pogromy Żydów na ziemiach polskich w XIX i XX wieku. Tom 2: Studia przypadków:” (do 1939 roku) (“Pogrom of Jews on the Polish Territories in the XIX and XX Century”, Vol. 2: Case Studies (to 1939), Warsaw 2019, Publisher: Instytut Historii im. Tadeusza Manteuffla Polskiej Akademii Nauk; Co-publishers: Instytut Historyczny Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski w Olsztynie, Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej w Lublinie, POLIN Museum.

This book is the second of four volumes arising the international research project “Pogromy. Przemoc kolektywna wobec Żydów na ziemiach polskich w XIX–XX wieku i jej wpływ na relacje polsko-żydowskie. Historia. Pamięć. Tożsamość” (Pogroms. Collective Violence against Jews in Polish Lands in the 19th and 20th Centuries and its Influence on Polish-Jewish Relations. History, Memory, Identity), coordinated by the University of Warsaw in cooperation with the UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies Department and the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Centre, Tel Aviv University. 

Artur Markowski, „Przemoc antyżydowska w wyobrażenia społeczne. Pogrom białostocki 1906 roku” (Anti-Jewish Violence and Social Imagery. The Białystok Pogrom of 1906, Warsaw; Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2018).

This book examines in detail the pogrom that broke on in Białystok on 14 June 1906, in which 80 Jews and nine Christians were killed. How to account for this pogrom, given that antisemitism was less intense in this largely Jewish city, compared with Warsaw and Kiev. Nor, according to the evidence, was it the result of a Russian provocation. Rather, the revolution of 1905 gave rise to large-scale unrest. Anarchist attacks on Orthodox and Catholic processions provoked attacks on Jewish shops and dwellings. The Russian army intervened, in part because they feared that those defending Jews were also revolutionaries.


Artur Markowski is head of the Department of 19th-Century History, University of Warsaw. and Senior Historian. POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. He specializes in 19th-century social history, with a focus on the history of Jews in the Russian Empire and of collective violence and social change. His books include Sztetl - wspólne dziedzictwo: szkice z dziejów ludności żydowskiej Europy Środkowej-Wschodniej (Białystok: Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu, 2003) and Między Wschodem i Zachodem: rodzina i gospodarstwo domowe Żydów suwalskich w pierwszej połowie XIX wieku (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Neriton, 2008). He was a coordinator of the research project on anti-Jewish pogroms of Jews in Polish lands in the 19th and 20th centuries and co-editor of two volumes arising from this project. 

Anna Cichopek-Gajraj is Associate Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on Polish-Jewish relations, antisemitism, and ethnic violence in Poland and the Polish-Jewish diaspora after the Holocaust. She is the author of Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie 11 sierpnia 1945 r. (Warsaw; Żydowski Instytut Historycny, 2000), a case study of the pogrom in Kraków in August 1945, and Beyond Violence: Jewish Survivors in Poland and Slovakia in 1944–1948 (Cambridge and New York; Cambridge University Press, 2014), a comparative study of the non-Jewish/Jewish relations in Poland and Slovakia after the Second World War, which earned honorable mention for the Barbara Held Prize, Association of Women in Slavic Studies, and was a finalist for the Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards, Association for Jewish Studies.

Jeffrey Kopstein is Professor and Chair of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on inter-ethnic violence, voting patterns of minority groups, and anti-liberal tendencies in civil society, with special attention to cases within European and Russian Jewish history He is the author (with Jason Wittenberg) of Mass Politics in Interwar Poland (Washington, D.C.: National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, 2005) and editor (with Mark Irving Lichbach) of Comparative Politics: Interests, Identities, and Institutions in a Changing Global Order (Cambridge  Cambridge University Press, 2015). His latest book (with Jason Wittenberg),  Intimate Violence: Anti-Jewish Pogroms on the Eve of the Holocaust (Cornell University Press, 2018) focuses on why Jews were massacred by the local populations in Eastern Europe during 1941 (in some ten percent of localities), while in other localities the locals did not kill Jews on a wide scale despite the German encouragement.


Antony Polonsky - Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University. Expertise: East European Jewish history and Holocaust studies. A founder and vice-president of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies in Oxford and of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies, Cambridge, MA. Graduate and doctor of the University of Oxford, member of the British Royal Historical Society, honorary doctorate of the University of Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University.


“Book Talks,” a monthly series from December 2020 until July 2021, leads up to GEOP’s online international conference in October 2021: "What's New What's Next? Innovative Methods, New Sources, and Paradigm Shifts in Jewish Studies". The call for panel and poster session proposals is open until 30 April, 2021.


The book talks are organized within the Global Education Outreach Program

This program was made possible thanks to Taube Philanthropies, the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland

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