PSA Graduate Student Research Award

Each year the Polish Studies Association holds a competition for a research award in the amount of up to $2,000. The award is intended to support active, graduate-level research on projects pertaining to Polish topics in any discipline or methodology. It is not intended as a write-up award. Grant monies are to be used for research-related purposes, e.g., travel, research materials, visas, etc., and should not be used to pay for tuition at home institutions. There are no citizenship requirements for this grant, and we invite eligible applicants based at academic institutions all over the world to apply.

Applicants must be members of the Polish Studies Association at the time of their application. 

Applications for the 2023 competition are due on September 1 and consist of the following materials: 

  1. a two-page description of the research project  
  2. a schedule of the research plan (including the location of relevant documents)  
  3. a budget 
  4. the name and contact information of one academic advisor or mentor who would be willing to provide a reference upon request

Please submit application materials to Karolina May-Chu (, Piotr Puchalski (, and Nikolas Weyland (

The Aquila Polonica Prize

Aquila Polonica

The Aquila Polonica Prize is awarded every other year to the author of the best English-language article published (either online or in print) during the previous two years on any aspect of Polish studies. The award carries a $500 honorarium (thanks to the generous support of Aquila Polonica Publishing, which specializes in publishing the Polish experience of World War II), and is announced at the National Convention of the Association for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies. Please submit nominations and self-nominations directly to the prize committee by July 1, 2023:

Natalia Jarska (, Agata Tumiłowicz-Mazur (, and Robert Pyrah (

2021 Winner:

Jessica C. Robbins, “Expanding Personhood beyond Remembered Selves: The Sociality of Memory at an Alzheimer’s Center in Poland,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, vol. 33, issue 4, 483-500, ISSN 0745-5194, online ISSN 1548-1387.

The prize committee was deeply impressed with Robbins’s examination of a case study of elderly Poles being treated for memory loss. Robbins observed treatment that encouraged the recall of common national memory as opposed to individual memories, with salutary effects on the patients. Her argument about what she calls the “sociality of memory” offers a way forward for the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease but also offers broader insights about the social position of the elderly, nationalism, memory, and modern Poland. Robbins’s solid methodology, clear research design, sustained argumentation, reference to the relevant scholarship, and careful attention to the specifically Polish context of her study made her piece stand out. Specifically, she shows that individuals with memory loss may have access to a shared historical narrative specific to Poland. More importantly, she demonstrates that this narrative generates the possibility of new social bonds where “personal” memories have lapsed and creates pathways for support and treatment on the part of caregivers who also have access to this narrative. Robbins’s work positions “national memory” in a new role—inherently neither exclusionary nor inclusionary, but rather a functioning memory structure generating a sense of personhood when other sources are no longer accessible.

Professor Robbins received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. She has won several awards and grants, and authored numerous articles, book chapters and her first book, Aging Nationally in Contemporary Poland: Memory, Kinship, and Personhood, which was recently published by Rutgers University Press. Jessica Robbins is an Associate Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Wayne State University.

2019 Winner:

Natalia Aleksiun, “Intimate Violence: Jewish Testimonies on Victims and Perpetrators in Eastern Galicia,” Holocaust Studies 23, no. 1-2 (2017): 17-33.

Natalia Aleksiun forcefully argues that the documentation of the postwar trials of “fascist-Hitlerite” criminals yields important insights into the wartime experience of Jews in eastern Poland. Though these trials were designed to reinforce the Communist Party’s emphasis on Polish “victims of fascism” rather than Jewish victims of the Holocaust, their witness statements and courtroom records prove revelatory rather than propagandistic. In her close readings of four specific court cases, Aleksiun succeeds in tracing the contradictory behaviors and complex motivations of the Greek and Roman Catholic perpetrators of crimes against the Jews. Her analysis of this everyday intimate violence highlights the twists and turns of unpredictable, often treacherous human drama: Jewish victims’ profound shock at the suddenly fierce aggression of gentile neighbors and acquaintances; desperate Jewish negotiation of alternating help and betrayal from the same gentile family; and the instance of a gentile woman’s “resentment” of a former Jewish classmate resulting in robbery and blackmail, yet dismissed by the prosecutor as an act of spite rather than a criminal act. Natalia Aleksiun’s deep dive into these trial records, extensive knowledge of her sources and their context, clear and sustained argument, and nuanced analysis of cases of everyday intimate violence amply merit her receipt of the 2017-2018 Aquila Polonica Prize.

2017 Winner:

Geneviève Zubrzycki, 2016, ‘Nationalism, “Philosemitism,” and Symbolic Boundary-Making in Contemporary Poland’ Comparative Studies in Society and History 58(1):66–98.

Geneviève Zubrzycki’s 2016 article ‘Nationalism, “Philosemitism,” and Symbolic Boundary-Making in Contemporary Poland’ (Comparative Studies in Society and History 58(1):66–98) makes an outstanding contribution to the field of Polish studies.  Zubrzycki brilliantly frames the ‘Jewish revival’ in Poland – synthesizing a now considerable body of research – to press for a more supple application of key sociological theories of nationalism and group identity. The article presents its topic in an engaging, well-researched, and nuanced way; juxtaposes philo-Semitic with anti-Semitic discourse; and frames both in the context of reformulations of nation. This allows us to understand these practices much better as well as see their further repercussions, and rethink more general mechanisms governing nations. All in all, the article is profound and full of insight. It is meticulously scholarly but also written in an accessible and lively manner.

2015 Winners:

Piotr Kosicki, “Masters in their Own Home or Defenders of the Human Person? Wojciech Korfanty, Antisemitism, and Polish Christian Democracy’s Illiberal Human Rights Talk.” Modern Intellectual History (June/July 2015).

Piotr Kosicki’s article clearly demonstrates that the author is a master in the discipline of history and a defender of a publicly engaged scholarly work. Piotr’s carefully researched, beautifully written and extremely gripping article explores the historical trajectory of the discourse of the Polish Catholic right and its contemporary implications. In so doing, it situates a fascinating Polish case in a broader context, tracing connections between the Polish Christian ideology and  political and philosophical movements in other European countries, shading a new light on the ideological underpinnings of Polish Antisemitism, and questioning some widespread assumptions regarding the role of Catholic politicians and intellectuals in prewar and postwar Poland. Strongly grounded in history, it forces the reader to reflect on contemporary Polish scene. And it simply does what an exemplary article on Poland should do: going beyond the narrative of Polish “specificity,” it shows that a specific Polish case study helps us understand more general and widespread phenomena.

Lisa Jakelski, “Pushing Boundaries: Mobility at the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music,” East European Politics and Societies 29, 1 (2015): 189-211.

The committee was very impressed with Jakelski’s well-written, historiographically significant, and analytically sophisticated article on an original topic—the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music. Jakelski sought out and analyzed original archival sources in order to present a highly nuanced argument about Cold War mobility, the nature of borders, and the complex set of relations—both within the Soviet Bloc and between Poland and “the West”—during the globalized 1960s. Particularly important is Jakelski’s dual focus on how cross-border connections could be both “top-down”—i.e. orchestrated by those working in an official capacity for the state—and “bottom-up”—i.e. consisting of the informal networks of people who circulated ideas about modernist music. Overall, Jakelski shows us that studying music does not simply provide a way to talk about the breaking down or the erecting of borders during the Cold War, tropes that can often be polemical and over-simplistic. Rather, this nuanced study of the constantly changing reconfigurations of metaphorical and literal borders makes her work relevant to those working beyond the field of Polish Studies. At the same time, however, Poland—a country that, she argues, was of particular significance “in cementing cultural ties between Eastern and Western Europe”—remains the central point of analysis.

Agnieszka Pasieka,  “Neighbors: About the Multiculturalization of the Polish Past.” East European Politics and Societies, 28 (Feb 2014): 225-251.

Pasieka challenges our understanding of a trope that most people caught up in the debates over Jan Gross’s work took completely for granted: neighbors and neighborliness. She draws on critical literature far beyond Poland to show that the paradigm of neighborliness as harmonious ethnic coexistence hinges on an idealized multicultural past. Pasieka uses her own fieldwork conducted in Southern Poland to present the Polish-Lemko relationship as a foil to get us past the binarism of Polish-Jewish identity issues. In her close analysis of narratives of conflict such as the Jedwabne debates, she finds contradictory patterns of neighborliness that can accommodate both the embrace of the other as “family” and the preservation of intergroup boundaries between “us” and “them.” There is a danger in romanticizing the neighborhood as a unit of measure, Pasieka argues, and her article successfully compels us to think through these difficult issues on a different scale.

2013 Winner: Katherine Lebow, “The Conscience of the Skin: Interwar Polish Autobiography and Social Rights,” Humanity 3:3  (Winter 2012): 297-319.

2011 Winners:

Magda Romanska, “Between History and Memory: Auschwitz in Akropolis, Akropolis in Auschwitz,” Theatre Survey 50 (2009): 223-250.

Michael Fleming, “The Ethno-Religious Ambitions of the Roman Catholic Church and the Ascendancy of Communism in Post-War Poland (1945-1950),” Nations and Nationalism 16 (2010): 637-656.

Robert Brier, “Adam Michnik’s Understanding of Totalitarianism and the West European Left: A Historical and Transnational Approach to Dissident Political Thought,” East European Politics and Societies 25 (2011): 197-218.

2009 Winner: Krzysztof Jasiewicz, “The New Populism in Poland: The Usual Suspects?” Problems of Post-Communism 55, 3 (May-June 2008): 7-25

2006 Winner: Patrice Dabrowski, “ʹDiscoveringʹ the Galician Borderlands: The Case of the Eastern Carpathians,” Slavic Review (2005): 380-402.

The Kulczycki Book Prize

From 2011-2017, the Polish Studies Association co-sponsored, along with the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, the annual Jerzy and Aleksandra Kulczycki Book Prize. A book must have been an original work published outside Poland in English (i.e., not a translation), dealing with any aspect of Polish Studies. Comparative or transnational works were considered only if Poland was the primary site of study. Strong preference was be given to younger scholars. The Book Prize is now administered by ASEEES:

  • 2017
    • Paul Brykczynski, Primed for Violence: Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics in Interwar Poland (University of Wisconsin Press)
    • Honorable Mention: John Kulczycki, Belonging to the Nation: Inclusion and Exclusion in the Polish-German Borderlands, 1939–1951 (Harvard University Press)
  • 2015
    • Michael Fleming, Auschwitz, the Allies and Censorship of the Holocaust (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
    • Per Anders Rudling, The Rise and Fall of Belarussian Nationalism 1906-1931 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014)
  • 2014: David Frick, Kith, Kin, and Neighbors: Communities and Confessions in Seventeenth-Century Wilno (Cornell University Press, 2013).
  • 2013: Beth Holmgren, Starring Madame Modjeska: On Tour in Poland and America(Indiana University Press, 2011).
  • 2012: Brian Porter-Szűcs, Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland(New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • 2011: Antony Polonsky, The Jews in Poland-Lithuania and Russia 1350 to the present day (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2009-2012).
  • 2010: James Bjork, Neither German nor Pole: Catholicism and National Indifference in a Central European Borderland.
  • 2007-2008: Co-Winners:
    • Natalia Nowakowska, Church, State and Dynasty in Renaissance Poland: The Career of Cardinal Frederyk Jagiellon.
    • Genevieve Zubrzycki, The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland
  • 2005-2006: Co-Winners:
    • Marci Shore, Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968
    • Alison Frank, Oil Empire: Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia
  • 2003-2004: Gunnar S. Paulsson, Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940-1945
  • 2001-2002: No Winner
  • 1999-2000: Brian Porter, When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland
  • 1997-1998: Kathleen Cioffi, Alternative Theatre in Poland 1954-1989
  • 1995-1996: Grzegorz Ekiert, The State Against Society: Political Crises and Their Aftermath in East Central Europe
  • 1993-1994: Jan Kubik, The Power of Symbols against the Symbols of Power: The Rise of Solidarity and the Fall of State Socialism in Poland

PSA Travel Grant

Each year, until 2017, the Polish Studies Association contributed $1,000 to bring a scholar from Poland to the United States to deliver a paper at the Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

  • 2017: Marcin Szerle, “Unofficial Trade and Business Practices in the Baltic Region in the 20th Century”, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Convention, November 2017
  • 2016: Jakub Szumski, “Brezhnev and Gierek. Poland as part of the global game”, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Convention, November 2016
  • 2015: Olga Linkiewicz, Institute of History PAN, “The Racial ‘Best Substance’: Anthropological Research on Society and the National Interest in Interwar Poland,” presented at the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Convention, November 2015
  • 2015: Lydia Zessin-Jurek, “The Rise of an Eastern European Community of Memory? Brussels as A Catalyst of the New Gulag Remembrance in Poland,” presented at the Association for the Study of Nationalities, April 2015
  • 2013: Paweł Wolski, “Post-Holocaust Urban Narratives.”
  • 2012: Anna Mazurkiewicz, “Cold War Activism: Organizations Sponsored and Founded by the National Committee for a Free Europe.”
  • 2011: Marcin Zaremba, “How the ‘Winter of the Century’ Warmed up Poles: The Climate as a Contributing Factor to the Rise of Solidarity.”