Professor; Director, Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia; Director, Center for European Studies; Director, Copernicus Center for Polish Studies
Geneviève Zubrzycki is a comparative-historical and cultural sociologist who studies nationalism and religion, collective memory and national mythology, and aesthetics and politics.
Her first book, the award-winning The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland (Chicago 2006) analyzed the reconfiguration of the relationship between Polishness and Catholicism after the fall of communism. She did so by examining Poles' and Jews' conflicting memories of World War II, and the international conflict over the presence of Christian symbols at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was translated into Polish in 2014 (Nomos).
In her second book, Beheading the Saint: Nationalism, Religion and Secularism in Quebec (Chicago 2016), Zubrzycki analyzed the discursive, ritual and visual genesis of a Catholic French-Canadian ethnic identity in the 19th century, and its transformation into a secular Québécois national identity in the second half of the 20th century. She extended her analysis to the present, investigating the role of Québécois nationalism in recent debates over immigration, the place of religious symbols in the public sphere, and the politics of cultural heritage—shedding light on similar debates elsewhere in the world. The book received multiple national and international awards and was translated into French and Polish.
Zubrzycki pursues her analysis of religion’s role in symbolic boundary-making in a third monograph, Resurrecting the Jew: Nationalism, Philosemitism and Poland's Jewish Revival (Princeton 2022). Primarily based on participant observation and interviews, the book analyzes the current revival of Jewish communities in Poland and non-Jewish Poles’ interest in all things Jewish.
In addition to these three monographs, Zubrzycki has extended her theoretical thinking on the significance of visual culture and materiality in her edited volume National Matters: Materiality, Culture and Nationalism (Stanford University Press, 2017) and is currently at work on a new book about the aesthetics of nationalism.
Her books and articles received prizes from the American Sociological Association’s sections on Sociology of Culture, Political Sociology, Sociology of Religion, and Collective Behavior and Social Movements; the International Society for the Sociology of Religion; the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion; the Canadian Sociological Association; the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies; and the Polish Studies Association.
In 2021, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her "prior achievements and exceptional promise" and the Bronislaw Malinowski Prize in the Social Sciences from the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America for her "widely-recognized research contributions to the social sciences, particularly as they relate to Poland and East-Central Europe."
Professor Zubrzycki is the Director of the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, the Center for European Studies; and the Copernicus Center in Polish Studies at the University of Michigan. She is also the editor of Comparative Studies in Society and History.
Recent Articles (selection)
2021 “Theodicy and Crisis: Explaining Variation in US Believers' Faith Respeonse to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review. (With Kraig Beyerlein and David Nirenberg).
2020 “The Comparative Politics of Collective Memory.” Annual Review of Sociology, 46:175–94. (with Anna Woźny)
2020 “Quo Vadis, Polonia? On Religious Loyalty, Voice, and Exit.” Social Compass, 67:2.
2019 “National Culture, National Identity, and the Culture(s) of the Nation,” in Laura Grindstaff, Ming-cheng Lo and John R. Hall (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology, 2nd edition, New York: Routledge, 506-514.
2017 “The Politics of Jewish Absence in Contemporary Poland,” Journal of Contemporary History, 52:2, 250-277.
2017 “Traces and Steps: Expanding Polishness Through a Jewish Sensorium?” in Geneviève Zubrzycki (ed) National Matters: Materiality, Culture and Nationalism. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 193-215.
2016 “Nationalism, ‘Philosemitism’ and Symbolic Boundary-Making in Contemporary Poland. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 58:1, 66-98.
2016 “Problematizing the ‘Jewish Turn’” in Irena Grudzińska-Gross (ed) Poland and Polin. New Interpretations in Polish-Jewish Studies. New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 175-179.
2015 “‘Oświęcim’/ ‘Auschwitz’: Archeology of a Mnemonic Battleground,” in Erica Lehrer and Michael Meng (eds) Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 16-45.