Diaspora and Denial? Holocaust Accounts of a Polish Community in Exile

By Leah P. Macfadyen.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this paper I consider the Polish Diaspora community in Scotland that has its origins in the post-war exile of Polish soldiers who fought alongside Western Allies after the occupation of Poland in 1939. I employ an autoethnographic approach, combined with wartime records published by the Polish Ministry of Information in 1941, as well as contemporary theory on the development and maintenance of collective identity, to examine some of the factors influencing this community’s shared mythology – their collective memory – of Poland and, in particular, of Poland’s role in the Holocaust. Who are this community? Who do they think they are? How have they maintained their cultural identity in exile and how do they reconcile this identity with apparently conflicting and accusatory accounts of Polish anti-Semitism? I propose that, as with many Diaspora communities, this community’s collective memory has been “frozen” in Diaspora. I conclude with some reflections on the role of similar frozen Diaspora narratives in complicating commentary on, analysis of and resolution of continuing conflict situations around the globe.

Keywords: Polish Diaspora, Scotland, Second World War, Holocaust, Collective Memory, Imagined Community

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.57-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 529.918KB).

Dr. Leah P. Macfadyen

Research Associate & Instructor, Science Centre for Learning and Teaching (Skylight), Faculty of Science, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Leah Macfadyen is an an enthusiastic interdisciplinarian with a diverse educational background and research corpus. Her academic career spans the Sciences and the Arts. Leah has a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences (Hons. Biochemistry) and a Ph. D. in Microbial Genetics (UBC); she later completed a Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada). She is currently a Research Associate with Skylight (the Science Centre for Learning and Teaching) in the Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and teaches courses in both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science. Leah is interested in the many and varied intersections (and collisions) between the Arts and the Sciences. Her research agenda includes Science and Technology Studies and Internet Research. She draws on theory and research from the fields of education, sociology, intercultural studies and communications, and make use of both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. She is particularly interested in processes of individual and collective identity construction, community development, ritual, culture and language in both ‘real’ and virtual environments.

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