Poland at 100: The Continuing Challenges of Nationhood

This talk will consider the meanings and consequences of the reemergence of a Polish state in 1918 in new boundaries, after 125 years of rule by foreign powers. The event is celebrated as liberation, but what did it mean for ethnic minorities like Jews and Ukrainians? What did it mean for women? That Poland lasted barely twenty years before being overwhelmed by its totalitarian neighbors. Could its leaders have done more to protect their state and European peace? These questions are considered in the shadow of today’s Poland and a right wing government that rejects critical approaches to the past.

John Connelly is a Professor of History and the director of the Institute for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies at UC Berkeley. He holds a BSFS from Georgetown University, MA (in Russian and East European Studies) from the University of Michigan, and a PhD from Harvard University. He has studied history in Heidelberg and Krakow.

His book Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech and Polish Higher Education (Chapel Hill, 2000) won the 2001 George Beer Award of the American Historical Association, and From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews (Harvard UP, 2012) was awarded the John Gilmary Shea prize of the American Catholic Historical Association. Dr. Connelly is currently working on a history of East Central Europe from 1784 to the present which is due to appear with Princeton University Press.

His other work has appeared in Minerva, East European Politics and Societies, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, The Journal of Modern History, Slavic Review, The Nation, the London Review of Books, Znak (Krakow) and Commonweal. His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Spencer Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Fulbright-Hayes, the International Research and Exchanges Board. He is on the editorial boards of Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropaforschung, Slavic Review, the Journal of Modern History, and the Kuratorium of the Imre Kertesz Kolleg in Jena.