Online lecture by Prof. Marcos Silber

In his last lecture at the Polish Institute of Advanced Studies PIASt, Professor Marcos Silber analyzed the work of a group of artists on the sociocultural “frontier” that transferred elements from other cultures into an ostensibly clear-cut “Polish” or "Jewish" culture.

Jews, qua Jews, together with Poles and qua Poles, created, disseminated, and participated in popular/mass culture in Poland. They acted as cultural agents in broader society, co-determining cultural meaning, co-instigating cultural processes, each functioning from within their own concrete social reality rather than acting solely on the basis of their Jewish—or Polish—cultural background.

During his lecture Prof. Silber claimed that the binary perception of culture, language, practices, and values that categorizes interwar Polish and Jewish popular and mass cultures into distinctive spheres is not applicable to interbellum commodified popular culture in Poland. Yiddish, Jewish, and Polish cultures intermingling in this context, this rather constitutes a case of reciprocal exchange. Analysis of the new popular culture reveals the rise of a new, Jewish-Polish hybrid (sub)culture. By the outbreak of World War II, many elements of Polish and Yiddish popular culture had become a singular Polish-Jewish blend—that frequently also resisted its symbiotic nature.