Poland – University of Copenhagen

Poland: Past(s), Heritage(s), Identities within the Cityscape of Kraków

The Polish project focuses on Kraków and explores how - within this particular cityscape - contemporary attitudes towards various religious/spiritual heritages are being formed and practiced. The city carries a deep symbolic meaning for Polish people as a former Polish capital, old royal residence, national mausoleum and 'sacred city' (where kings, local Christian saints, Jewish tzadiks, national heroes, artists and poets are buried). Kraków – whose historic centre is enlisted as UNESCO world heritage site – can be seen as an arena where contemporary discourses on religion(s), heritage(s), past(s) are being articulated and negotiated by city council, politicians, churches and religious institutions, inhabitants, tour operators, museums, tourists, and pilgrims… Our aim is to ethnographically observe, experience and analyze the complexity of relations between official and stereotypical images of the city's heritage, its various usages (also in politically burdened contexts), internal 'life of the city', the local experiences and grass root activities that emerge in relation to particular religious-heritage sites, objects and practices.

Especially, we focus on:

  1. lived Catholicism in the context of the heritagization, museumification and festivalization of the cityscape (the heritagization of the cityscape in relation to Catholic World Youth Day in 2016, promoting the city as the 'city of John Paul II', challenging and redefining 'Catholic heritage' in relation to other Christian denominations and religious traditions and their places within the city, e.g. the popularity of chakra near Kraków's cathedral; the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as a part of the city's heritage);

  2. the politicization of 'religious heritage' in relation to specific religious sites, objects and practices (especially during political demonstrations performed within the cityscape in 2016-2017);

  3. Kraków's Nativity Scene/Christmas Crib tradition as an 'intangible heritage' of the city's inhabitants;

  4. Jewish heritage – forgotten synagogues and abandoned Jewish praying houses within contemporary imagery on 'religious-spiritual heritage' of Kraków (also in relation to the heritagization of Kazimierz as a ‘Jewish district' within Kraków's cityscape).

The research will be undertaken by senior researchers and a PhD student employed at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Jagiellonian University, in Kraków (Anna Niedźwiedź – principal investigator, Monika Golonka-Czajkowska – senior researcher, Kaja Kajder – PhD student) and a senior researcher working at the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków (Magdalena Kwiecińska). The scientific team collaborates with the Tygodnik Poszechny Foundation (represented by Marcin Żyła) and with the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków (represented by Urszula Sobczyk). In November 2017, the Museum will host an exhibition: "Maps of the city: heritages and the sacred" which will present the HERILIGION's first outcomes to a broader public.