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The social origins of anti-Jewish violence. The Kingdom of Poland in the second half of the 19th century (1864-1914)

Head: dr hab. Artur Markowski


The aim of the project is to answer the question about the genesis of physically manifested anti-Jewish aggression during the period of social change following the enfranchisement reforms in the Kingdom of Poland. The geography, regionalization and social conditions of anti-Jewish violence will be examined, and its functional typology will be proposed. The research will cover not only pogroms (acts of communal violence) but also other manifestations of physical attacks on Jews (including beatings, acts of vandalism and robbery).

The idea of the research is to go beyond the standard view of the causes of this violence only in anti-Semitism, but also to look for them in other phenomena, such as: social practices, concepts of creating local leadership, struggle for realization of economic aspirations related to the social position of the lower classes, power-citizen (subject) relations in the authoritarian system, acquisition of political subjectivity by the underprivileged classes and traditions of conflicts and social tensions.

Questions will be asked about the mechanism of violence, the reasons leading to its occurrence, the goals it was attempted to achieve, the social characteristics of the perpetrators and participants in these attacks, models of leadership in attacking groups in the case of communal violence, and the geographical and demographic systematics of these events. Of particular importance here is the context of the social change to which the inhabitants of the congressional district were subjected in the second half of the nineteenth century in connection with enfranchisement reform, migration to the cities, and the rapid and chaotic development of the capitalist economy, with its cultural consequences in the form of social atrophy, the disappearance of old and the emergence of new authorities, the weakening of local community functions, and the disappearance of traditional social norms and values. The system of rationing violent behavior, connected with the level of control over society, first by the state and then by emerging political movements and organizations (parties), will also be examined.

The realization of these project goals will be possible through the analysis of source materials, especially archival materials deposited in archives in Poland, Russia, the United States, England, Germany, and Austria. The project will employ a number of analysis methods, primarily geographic-historical analysis using a Geographic Information System (GIS).

The results of the project will contribute significantly to a better and more complete understanding of the causes of violence and the mechanisms that generate it, and will advance research in the disciplines of Jewish Studies, Polish-Jewish relations, violence studies, and 19th and 20th century social history.

Registration number: 2020/37/B/HS3/00554