Interview with Małgorzata Mazurek--May 15, 2014

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Interview with Małgorzata Mazurek, who was recently named the first Polish Studies Chair at Columbia University. Interview conducted in New York on May 15, 2014. Special thanks to Máté Rigó, Ph.D. candidate in History at Cornell University, for preparing a time-stamped inventory of the interview. Mazurek is the author of three monographs in Polish, including Waiting in Lines: On Experiences of Scarcity in Postwar Poland (2010), The Anthropology of Scarcity in the GDR and Poland, 1971-1989 (2010), and Socialist Factory: Workers in People's Poland and in the GDR on the Eve of the Sixties (2005). She has also written several reviews, contributions to edited volumes, and articles in English.

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Interview Themes: 00:00 Family background, family politics; 03:00 No family connection to the opposition (Solidarity); 07:00 Family experience of WWII, ancestors represent all social groups of interwar Poland; 13:00 Partial Jewish ancestry, peasant Catholic ancestry, Polish Jewish experience of WWI; 15:00 Experiences of Jewish grandfather during and after WWII; land reform; 16:20 Grandfather arrested when using a fake Polish identity; Mazurek is a Polish-sounding family name adopted during WWII; 20:12 Postwar retribution; 24:00 Grandfather becomes a journalist after the communist takeover; 30:00 Grandfather gets a job at Metalexport as a translator; 35:00 Experience of 1980s and 1990s as periods of constant change; 40:00 Schooling, experience at a private school, interactions with students of liberal and anti-communist backgrounds; 45:20 Parents are scientific researchers and academics, organic chemistry and geology; relationship to the Polish Communist Party; father’s fascination with banks, currency and economy; 51:54 Elections of 1989; 55:20 Jan Gross’s Neighbors as a radical censure in Polish intellectual life; 1:00:20 Impact of Gross’s book, Positive phenomena in Polish-Jewish relations, confronting the past; 1:04:50 Accidents in Polish history; 1:08:20 Gross, Polish-Jewish relations as an institutionalized relationship; 1:12:00 Experience at university; sociology, MA thesis; 1:17:00 Trends within the new generation of Polish historiography; Move towards studying communist Poland within the context of European history and the legacy of WWII; 1:19:00 Different perspectives on ECE history between different academic environments (USA, Poland, Germany, historical sociology); 1:23:00 Training in sociology, university experience; Sociology as an intellectually challenging course of study; Habitus of more traditional history students vs. sociology students in 1990s Poland; 1:30:20 Columbia Chair of Polish History; 1:34:00 Experience of switching between disciplines, importance of language skills


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Malgorzata; Mazurek


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