You Are What You Wear: Polish and Jewish Visual Nationalisation through Fashion in the Partitioned Poland (1848-1918)
In my postdoctoral research project I examine the crucial role of fashion, clothing, appearance and style in creation of a visual identity or of a sense of belonging. I concentrate on two groups of the population: Polish and Jewish in the three major cities, Warsaw, Lemberg and Posen from 1848-1914 between the Spring of the Nations until World War I in an area divided between three empires in which these identities were formed and crystallized. My study shows how various European, local and ethnic images, notions and ideals were both preserved and transformed on different social levels of these two groups, as seen by the clothing adopted, in all its manifestations, mediating therefore between group imagination and the final result of its inculcation into daily life. It analyzes how communal self-definition was conceived of as extending to the area, but also as encountering a border in East-Central and Western Europe to several of its defining features. I examine the clothing of two groups in three specific cities in the larger context of the broad background of social, political and economic reality in East-Central Europe during these years.
Anna Novikov is a research fellow at the Cologne Centre for Central and Eastern Europe with a planned project “Between Kapota and Siurtuk: The Dynamics of East-Central European Jewish Clothing”. Her research focuses on the social, cultural and visual transnational East-Central European and Jewish history and on the questions of identity and self-definition. She was a Junior Visiting Fellow at Oxford University (2010, 2012), at the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture in Leipzig (2010, 2011), a postdoctoral research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw (2013-2015) and a research fellow at the Center for Jewish History in New York. Her book Shades of a Nation: The Dynamics of Belonging among the Silesian and the Jewish population in Eastern Upper Silesia (1922-1934) is currently published (2015) with Fibre Verlag, Osnabrück. Her recent publications include “Leo Baeck and Leon Ader: A Friendship Reflected in Correspondence”, Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 2015, Oxford University Press, 2015.