photo: unearthing the Jewish cemetery, Gorlice, Poland


Erica Lehrer


B.A. (with honors), Grinnell College, 1992
Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2005
Certificate in Museum Studies, University of Michigan, 2005


Selected Publications


Monographs & Edited Volumes

Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places, an ethnographic monograph that explores the cultural, social, and political stakes and stakeholders in Poland’s post-Communist Jewish heritage tourist industry. (University of Indiana Press, 2013).

Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places, an edited volume with Cynthia Milton and Monica Patterson that investigates organized, aesthetic interventions into difficult public memory in the form of exhibitions, monuments, and heritage preservation. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland, an edited volume with Michael Meng that examines the issues of nostalgia, space, and pluralism in post-Communist Poland. (Indiana University Press, 2015). Read introduction HERE.

Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions, an edited volume with Shelley Ruth Butler that considers the theoretical and methodological potential of having critics of museology propose exhibitions that respond to their own critiques. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016).


Exhibition Catalogs

Lucky Jews / Na szczęście to Żyd. Based on the exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy. Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum, Kraków, Poland. June 25 – July 14, 2013. Click HERE for a link to the Lucky Jew website.

Portrait of a People: The Jewish Heritage Collection Dedicated to Mark and Dave Harris. An Exhibit Curated by Peggy E. Daub, Elliot H. Gertel, & Erica T. Lehrer. April 11 – August 19, 2005, University of Michigan Library.


Chapters & Articles – Academic

Jewish Heritage, Pluralism, and Milieux de Mémoire: The Case of Kraków’s Kazimierz.”  In: Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland, (Eds.) Erica Lehrer and Michael Meng, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015: 170-192.

“Virtual, Virtuous, Vicarious, Vacuous? Towards a Vigilant use of Labels (A Response to Ruth Gruber).” In: Jewish Cultural Studies No. 4: Framing Jewish Culture: Boundaries and Representations. Edited by Simon J. Bronner. Oxford: Littman Library. 2014.

Collecting (as) Dialogue? International Collaborative Collecting and “Difficult” Objects,” (with Lauren Ramsay). Comcol International Committee for Collecting Newsletter. No. 22, July 2013.

Cur(at)ing History: New Genre Art Interventions and the Polish-Jewish Past,” (with Magdalena Waligórska). East European Politics, Societies, and Cultures vol. 27 no. 3, August 2013: 510-544.

Relocating Auschwitz: Affective Relations in the Jewish-German-Polish Troika.” In: Germany, Poland and Postmemorial Relations: In Search of a Livable Past. (Eds.) Kristin Kopp and Joanna Nizynska, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012: 213-238.

Introduction: Witnesses to Witnessing,” (with Cynthia Milton). In Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places, (Eds.) Erica Lehrer, Cynthia Milton and Monica Patterson, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011: 1-19.

Re-curating Testimony: Toward a New Pedagogy for Learning from the Past,” (with Monica Patterson). In Anthropology News, September-October 2011.

Can there be a Conciliatory Heritage?” In: International Journal of Heritage Studies Vol. 16 (4-5), July-September, 2010: 269-288.

Curating Jews: Reflections on the Practice of Heritage.” In: AJS Perspectives, Spring, 2010, pages 32-33.

The Matter of Jewishness: Rules for the collection and display of material culture.” In: Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Vol. 1, No. 4, 2008: 45-56.

Bearing false witness? Vicarious Jewish identity and the politics of affinity.” In: Imaginary Neighbors: Mediating Polish-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust, (Eds.) Dorota Glowacka and Joanna Zylinska, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007: 84-109.

Repopulating Jewish Poland – In Wood.Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 16, 2003: 335-355.


Chapters & Articles – Public

Exhibit Case Study: Souvenir, Talisman, Toy. Museum Ethnographers Group “Engaging Curators” project. March 2014.

Czarno-Bialy Sprawiedliwy.” (“Black and White Righteous.”) Exhibition review: “The Righteous honoured in Krakow. Motives, attitudes, message.” Krytyka Polityczna. February 11, 2014.

Unquiet Places: A Second Look at Jewish Poland Today.” Pakn Treger, 56, Spring, 2008: 26-35.

Jewish? Heritage? In Poland? A Brief Manifesto & an Ethnographic-Design Intervention into Jewish Tourism in Poland.” Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal. 12(1), Fall, 2007: 36-41.

The Only Jewish Bookshop In Poland.” Pakn Treger 36, Summer, 2001: 34-37.



Difficult Questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue (Translated from Polish to English). (Eds) Kozlowski, Maciej, Andrzej Folwarczny, and Michal Bilewicz,  Warsaw, Poland, 2006: Jacek Santorski & Co.



Irit Shamgar’s Lake 68 & Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz’s Gdanski Railway Station. In: Program book of the 21st Annual Boston Jewish Film Festival, 2009.

Stanislaw Krajewski’s Poland and the Jews: Reflections of a Polish Polish Jew. In: Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, 2007.

Ruth Gruber’s Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe. In: Cultural Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Folklore and Popular Culture, 2005.

Ronit Kertzner’s film The Secret. In: Program book of the 14th Annual Boston Jewish Film Festival, 2002.



A Jew for Luck. Documentary film, Kraków, Poland, 2014.

Curating Ambivalence: An Interview with Erica Lehrer.” American Anthropologist (Visual Anthropology), Vol. 117, No. 3, September 2015.

“Erica Lehrer and Paulina Fiejdasz on their project Lucky Jews.” AnthroTalking: Podcasts at Stockholm University’s Department of Social Anthropology. November 5, 2015.

Voices on Antisemitism. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. October 1, 2015.




Other Projects

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Public Scholarship and Cultural Activism

Museums and Heritage in a Globalized World

The Holocaust

Curating Difficult Knowledge (2015)

Curating Difficult Knowledge (2011)

Documenting Mass Violence: Recording, Description, Dissemination

Europe & The Jews

Managing the Past: Culture, Memory, & Reconciliation after Mass Trauma

Social Documentary: Telling Other People’s Stories

Anthropology of Contemporary Jewish Life

Doing Anthropology: Finding, Collecting, and Reporting Cultural Stories

Picturing Memory: Case Studies in Post-War Representation (The Holocaust and Japanese-American Internment


Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence