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Erica Lehrer, PhD

Professor, History

Erica Lehrer, PhD

Erica Lehrer is a sociocultural anthropologist and curator, and currently Professor in the History Department at Concordia. She is also Founding Director of the university's Curating and Public Scholarship Lab (CaPSL). From 2007-2017 She held the Canada Research Chair in Museum and Heritage Studies, and she currently directs the 7-year, $2.5 million international team project Thinking Through the Museum (TTTM): A Partnership Approach to Curating Difficult Knowledge in Public (2021-2028), funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).


B.A. (1992) Grinnell College; M.A. (1997) and Ph.D. (2005) in Sociocultural Anthropology, and Certificate in Museum Studies (2005), University of Michigan.

Selected Publications

Monographs, edited volumes, special issues

Lehrer, Erica and SJ Kerr-Lapsley (eds.) Beyond Museum Walls: Museums and the Academy in Tension and Dialogue. Jagiellonian / Columbia University Press (Exhibiting Theory series), Forthcoming, 2024.


Lehrer, Erica, Roma Sendyka, and Magdalena Waligórska (eds.) “Awkward Objects, Curiosa and Varia: Exploring the Boundaries of the Holocaust Archive”. Special issue of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Forthcoming, 2024.


Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions. Edited volume with Shelley Butler. McGill-Queens Press, 2016.


Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland. Edited volume with Michael Meng. Indiana University Press, 2015.


Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places. Indiana University Press (“New Anthropologies of Europe” series), 2013. (Finalist, National Jewish Book Award; Honorable Mention, Association of Jewish Studies Jordan Schnitzer Book Award).

Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places. (Eds.) Erica Lehrer, Cynthia Milton, and Monica Patterson. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Exhibition catalogs

Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust. With Roma Sendyka, Wojciech Wilczyk, Magdalena Zych. Warsaw: Kritika Polityczna, 2024. (e-book)


Widok zza bliska. Inne obrazy Zagłady. With Roma Sendyka, Wojciech Wilczyk, Magdalena

Zych. Warsaw: Kritika Polityczna, 2023.


My Museum, a Museum about Me: Curatorial Dreams for the Kraków Ethnographic Museum. With Roma Sendyka. Kraków: Jagiellonian / Columbia University Press (Exhibiting Theory series), 2023.


Różnicowanie narodowego “my”: kuratorskie marzenia. With Roma Sendyka. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 2019.

Lucky Jews / Na Szczęscie To Żyd. Ha!art Press, Krakow, 2014.

Recent academic articles and chapters

"Unpacking Righteousness: Material Legacies of Aid to Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland." Holocaust and Genocide Studies (special issue on "Awkward Objects, Curiosa and Varia: Exploring the Boundaries of the Holocaust Archive"). Forthcoming, 2024.

"Materialny krewny: wspólnoty uwikłania w postkolonialnych,

postholokaustowych polskich zbiorach etnograficznych". [Polish translation of

"Material Kin: 'Communities of implication' in post-colonial, post-Holocaust

Polish ethnographic collections"]. Prace Kulturoznawcze, Vol. 27, No. 4 ("Peasant 

Genealogies", ed. Jan Wasiewicz), Forthcoming, 2024.

"Curatorial Activism: Museums, Memory, Change." Routledge Handbook of

Memory Activism. (Eds.) Yifat Gutman, Kerry Whigham, and Jenny Wüstenberg.

London: Routledge. 2023, 369-375.

"Decolonial Museology in East-Central Europe: A Preliminary To-Do List."

EuropeNow (Columbia University), with Joanna Wawrzyniak, 2023.

"Materiality and Holocaust Memory: Activating and Theorizing Poland’s Unquiet

Places." Jewish Quarterly Review. Forum on the state of the field of Eastern

European Jewish studies. Vol. 112, No. 2 (Spring 2022), 239–244.

"Jewish Figurines and Holocaust Memory: A Meaning-Making Circuit in (and

beyond) the Polish People’s Republic." Diskursbuch Sprachlosigkeit (ed. by

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden),

Leipzig: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2021.

"Material Kin: 'Communities of implication' in post-colonial, post-Holocaust Polish

ethnographic collections." In (Eds.) Jonas Tinius and Margareta von Oswald,

Across Anthropology: Convergences through Museums, Colonial Legacies, and

the Curatorial. (Leuven University Press), 2020: pp. 283-316.

"Making space for Jewish culture in Polish 'folk' and 'ethnographic' museums:

Curating social diversity after ethnic cleansing."(with Monika Murzyn-Kupisz).

Museum Worlds: Advances in Research, special issue honoring Barbara

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, 2019, pp. 82-108.

"Arts of Witness or Awkward Objects? Vernacular art as a source base for

'bystander' Holocaust memory in Poland" (with Roma Sendyka). Special issue of

Holocaust Studies: Disputed Holocaust Memory in Poland. (Eds.) Larry Ray and

Sławomir Kapralski." Vol. 25, Issue 3, 2019, pp. 300-328.

"Can there be a Conciliatory Heritage?" International Journal of Heritage Studies.

Vol. 16 (4-5), July-September, 2010: 269-288. (Reprinted in S. Watson, A.

Barnes, and K. Bunning (eds.) A Museum Studies Approach to Heritage.

Leicester Readers in Museum Studies. Routledge: London and New York, 2018).

Museum and Exhibition Reviews

"Making #Heritage Great Again." Political Critique ( November 27, 2017.

"Curating Polish Folk." Political Critique ( November 18, 2016.

"Thinking Through the Canadian Museum for Human Rights." American Quarterly. Volume 67, Number 4. December 2015. Pgs. 1195-1216.


Difficult Questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue: How Poles and Jews See Each Other: A Dialogue on Key Issues in Polish-Jewish Relations. (Eds) Kozłowski, Maciej, Andrzej Folwarczny, Michał. Bilewicz, Forum Dialogu Midzy Narodami, and American Jewish Committee. Warszawa: Jacek Santorski & Co Agencja Wydawnicza, 2006. (Translated from Polish to English).

Exhibitions & installations (selected)

Professional Association Board Memberships

  • Rescue Memory Consortium (Poland) 2023-2025

  • American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies (USA) 2017-present

  • Memory Studies Association (Amsterdam) 2016-present

  • Association for Jewish Studies (USA) 2015-2018

  • Council of Museum Anthropology (USA) 2014-2020

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