Abstract

This essay responds to the question, “Is there a history of Poland beyond the Holocaust?” It introduces an approach developed by historian Christina Sharpe and argues that this approach may contribute to a reframing of historical work on Poland. Specifically, Sharpe’s metaphor of “in the wake” is helpful in identifying how violence operates inside historical narrative, generates effects beyond that narrative, and creates openings for challenging dominant historical frameworks. Movement in this direction has already become evident in some recent scholarship on Poland and the Jewish experience in the World War II and prewar periods. This essay presents Sharpe’s approach, discusses its application to Poland, and points to work that promises hope in moving beyond entrenched political positions on Polish-Jewish relations.

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