Cultural anthropologist Marysia Galbraith conducted research on Polish national identity for 20 years before she realized she would never really understand her personal connections to Poland until she confronted a family secret: her mother’s family was not just Polish, but also Jewish. Since 2011, she has found family photographs, collected memories from relatives, searched archives, and traveled to the towns and cities of her ancestors. Not only has she traced her ancestors back into the 18th century, she has also, more importantly, found living relatives—in the US, Israel, Switzerland, and Canada. Her personal story reveals the complex relationship between Jews and Catholics in Poland before and during World War II, how it defined the silences within her family in the US, and where others can look to trace their own Jewish-Polish ancestry.
Marysia Galbraith is a professor at The University of Alabama in New College and the Department of Anthropology. She earned her PhD in anthropology from the University of California, San Diego in 1996. She received the 2017 Bronislaw Malinowski Social Science Award for her book, Being and Becoming European in Poland: European Integration and Self-Identity (2015, Anthem). Her current research focuses on Jewish heritage in Poland.