Badania nad historią Polski w kontekście studiów nad Europą Środkową i Wschodnią w Ameryce Północnej

Piotr J. Wróbel

Abstract


In North America, research on a history of Poland was neglected until the 1940s. The American scholars, who specialized in Eastern Europe, concentrated on Russia. The Americans of Polish origin were not engaged in historical studies at all or were historians-amateurs. The turning point took place after the outbreak of the Second World War when a wave of refugees came to America from Poland. This wave included a small group of historians, such as Oskar Halecki, Jan Kucharzewski and Wacław Jędrzejewicz. Some of them joined the faculties of the North American Universities and established the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America (PIASA), the Joseph Pilsudski Institute and the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA). The American academia and the Polish scholarly associations became centers of exchange of ideas between American scholars and the newcomers from various European countries. This exchange was of great importance for the development of
Polish historical thought. The Cold War became the next stimulus for the improvement of research on Poland and Eastern Europe. A new cohort of historians came from Europe, including Marian Kamil Dziewanowski, Piotr Wandycz and Anna Cienciala. Several dozens of historians from Poland initiated a golden half-century of Polish historiography in North America. They published many important books and periodicals and
infl uenced the historiography in Poland. After the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, its history became less attractive to North Americans. Moreover, the generation of Dziewanowski and Wandycz was about to leave. An anxiety appeared that the research on Eastern Europe and Poland could diminish to the pre-1939 proportions. Yet it is not unavoidable. Many countries of the former Soviet “camp”
belong to the European Union and Poland plays a relatively significant role in this organization. Chairs and centers of Polish history have appeared at a dozen of North American universities. It is possible therefore that the studies conducted in North America will remain an important element of the Polish historiography.

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