"Germans, Poles, and Jews in the Making of the ‘Lodzermensch’"
Dr. Winson Chu is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (USA). He received a PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2006. His doctoral dissertation, titled “German Political Organizations and Regional Particularisms in Interwar Poland (1918–1939),” won the 2007 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize from the Friends of the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, as well as the 2007 James H. Kettner Graduate Prize from the History Department at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Chu’s book, The German Minority in Interwar Poland, is scheduled to be released in June 2012 by Cambridge University Press as part of its Publications of the German Historical Institutes series. He is also the author of “‘Volksgemeinschaften unter sich’: German Minorities and Regionalism in Poland, 1918–39,” a chapter in German History from the Margins edited by Neil Gregor, Nils Roemer, and Mark Roseman (2006).
He is in the process of writing several articles, including “The ‘Lodzermensch’: From Cultural Contamination to Marketable Multiculturalism” in Germany, Poland and Postmemorial Relations: In Search of a Livable Past, edited by Kristin Kopp and Joanna Niżyńska, and “National Socialism and Hierarchical Regionalism: The German Minorities in Interwar Poland,” which will be included in Heimat, Region and Empire: Spatial Identities under National Socialism, edited by Chris Szejnmann and Maiken Umbach.
Dr. Chu has presented his research at numerous conferences and workshops and has served on several panels. He has received many grants and fellowships, including the Early Career Postdoctoral Fellowship in East European Studies from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Dr. Richard M. Hunt Fellowship from the American Council on Germany during summer 2010, and two research grants from the German Historical Institute in Warsaw. He is fluent in German and has very good Polish language skills.
During his tenure at the Center, Dr. Chu conducted research for his project “Germans, Poles, and Jews in the Making of the ‘Lodzermensch.’” He explored the possibilities and limits of German-Polish-Jewish interaction by examining ethnic politics in the central European city of Łódź. Poland’s second largest city in the 20th century, Łódź was infamous before World War II for having produced the “lodzermensch,” or “man of Łódź.” This simultaneously local and transnational stereotype blended the putative characteristics of the city’s Poles, Jews, and Germans. It also embodied nationalist anxieties regarding poly-ethnic cohabitation and the purported loss of national character.
Dr. Chu’s research examined the shifting history of the “lodzermensch” as a way to understand complex relationships between and within ethnic groups in central Europe in the 20th century. He drew from a variety of archival documents, books, journal articles, tourist brochures, television documentaries, and cinematic productions at the Museum as well as at other archives.
Dr. Chu was in residence at the Mandel Center from January 1 to August 30, 2012.