Malgorzata Bakalarz is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at The New School for Social Research. Her research focuses on space, public memory, ownership, and new social imagery in small Polish towns.
MALGORZATA BAKALARZ is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at The New School for Social Research whose research focuses on the reclaiming of Jewish religious property in three small towns in post-socialist southeast Poland. Questions of space and place constitute a critical dimension of this story, not only as a “stage” for local interactions, but as the newly exposed trigger for unexpected eruptions of public energy and the emergence of local civil society.
Before the Second World War, each of these towns was a multiethnic shtetl with a still-visible spatial and architectural fabric. All three spaces were “re-dressed” during the Communist era. Today, the reemergence of their material texture is occurring both symbolically—as a result of the reclaiming process and the new “multiethnic approach” favored in public discourse—and, physically, as a result of demolition, decay, and the restoration and transformation of old and new buildings. The domestication of space, the liberation of public memory, the problem of ownership (both material and symbolic), and the slow emergence of new social imagery in these three small Polish towns is at the heart of the research that Malgo will be carrying out this year as a GIDEST Doctoral Fellow.