On October 16th Librairie Drawn and Quarterly hosted a fabulous Canadian launch of Erica Lehrer's fascinating and complex book, Lucky Jews.
Shtetl Montreal host Tamara Kramer introduced the night, and facilitated a conversation with Erica Lehrer. It was an incredibly in-depth conversation, covering Erica's other books (Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places, and Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (as co-editor).
Tamara and Erica spoke of the heritage industry that’s popped up in Poland, and the debates surrounding the depictions of Jewish culture in the figurines sold in Poland. Erica's process on this topic is incredible; her exploration of the figures (whose quantity in Poland, she says, seems to outnumber actual Jews), and the figures' negative connotations as perpetuating Jewish stereotypes. She pursues these ideas, and researches them to learn more.
Afterwards, the audience was poised with a many questions, regarding how Erica chose the figurines for the exhibit and book, and the tension of people trying to do something good and misfiring. Throughout the conversation it is tremendously engrossing how these figurines embody stereotypes, yet also nostalgia and cultural appropriation.