Our Recent Labs:

On September 8, 2023 we launched the Exploring Central Europe: History, Memory, and Identity Across Borders, a semester-long program organized in partnership with the University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw, Poland  and Syracuse University. Together with our students, we begin our journey through which we explore the memories of conflict and ongoing processes of reconciliation in Central Europe.

A Dream Come True: Lessons Learned While Exploring East Central Europe, and the Value of Experiencing History Firsthand

By Anna Meehan

When I was young, my favorite book was “A History of the Baltic States” by Andres Kasekamp. If that sounds odd to you, I must agree– it’s not the average pick for a teenage girl. more

Sejny as Inspiration for a Refugee Organization in Syracuse

By Sofia DaCruz

In northeastern Poland, on the border of Lithuania, lies a small and unique town called Sejny. Sejny, like most towns in Poland, experienced the devastation of World War II both in the literal destruction of its infrastructure and the murder of its Jewish population. more

Historical Retelling of Polish-Jewish Relations: The PiS as Storytellers

By Sierra Kaplan

The stories we hear as kids remain in our memory throughout our lifetimes. What we learn from classic tales like The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Goldilocks and the Three Bears frames our current moral compass, shaping our behaviors and beliefs. more

These Walls Are Screaming: Graffiti in Central Europe

By Ian Eisenbrand

When moving through the streets and alleyways of Central Europe, you are constantly exposed to graffiti, with walls serving as a teeming public forum. Fragmented voices of anonymous protest cascade down cities’ walls in an almost overwhelming stream of political discourse. more

(In)Accessible Spaces: Struggles and Solutions Through the Lens of Memorial Sites

By Sierra Kaplan

800 stairs down, 135 meters deep, 3.5 kilometers long. For the one million sightseers who visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland every year, these are the extreme lengths taken to complete the journey, and our program eagerly embarked on this tour. more

Living Spaces as Memorials and Places of Memory

By Andrew Emerson

Throughout human history there is no shortage of places of tragedy. Brutality and slaughter have followed humankind wherever we have traveled and the spaces where these actions occur often become haunting reminders of infinite human cruelty. more

Observing Relationships Between Soviet Memorials and Public Memory in East-Central Europe

By Anna Meehan

Soviet memorials can be encountered across Central Europe. Recognizing the victories and sacrifices of the Red Army during the Second World War, these memorials honor a regime which spread across Central and Eastern Europe for the last half of the 20th century. more

Nature Is the Strongest Healing Force

By Kennedy Snyder

Throughout our travels and studies, we have visited many memorials and heard about all different kinds of atrocities. At every memorial, we walk in with solemn minds full of thoughts about those whose lives were lost, and reason behind the memorial. more

The Linguistic Power of the Bavarian Quarter

By Charlotte Goodman

From the time of Hitler being appointed leadership in 1933 until the end of the war in 1945, the word Jew developed a new negative connotation it hadn’t carried as strongly before. The word went from a simple word of identification, carrying no clear positive or negative connotation, to being an attack or an insult. more

An Ode to The German Jewish History of Wroclaw

By Maddie Hartog

If you ask me about my study abroad, I will say I am studying in Wroclaw, Poland, where the people speak Polish, pierogies are abundant, and Zabka convenience stores can be found on nearly every corner. I went my first two months living here without deeply considering the German heritage of this city, nor acknowledging the Jewish population that lived here prior to World War II. more

Treptower Park Soviet War Memorial: A View of Berlin Through Red Tinted Glasses

By Suryansh Singh

Situated alongside the serpentine banks of the River Spree, Treptower Park Soviet War Memorial stands as an ornament placed within the region’s natural beauty, adding to the altar of the history of the city of Berlin. more

Democracy Idealized Through Dinnerware: Small Objects Tell a Much Larger Story

By Abigail Wright

In the final stretch of our visit to Birkenau, former Nazi concentration and extermination camp, we knelt down to our knees and beheld the natural unearthing of history, of a story that could fit in the palm of our hands. more

Memorials Made Visible: School Curriculums as Essential to Memory Work

By Sofia DaCruz

Walking through the streets of Amsterdam with my friend Emma I admired the rows of houses lined along canals, and the leaves covering the streets. As I brushed the leaves while I walked, I noticed a glimmer of brass which I recognized as a Stolperstein or “stumbling stone”. more

Pope Saint John Paul II and Reality vs Perception

By Andrew Emerson

Pope John Paul II is a figure whose legacy continues to loom over the modern state of Poland and the expanded Catholic world. When you travel to Poland you will feel him looming over you. more

Replanting the Tree of Life

By Charlotte Goodman

Growing up in a Jewish household, I was surrounded by symbolism. The most noteworthy, being the use of trees in Jewish scripture and fables. In Judaism, trees symbolize life. more

Remembering the Children of War

By Leanne Rivera

During the Second World War, countless children were affected by brutal violence. They endured physical suffering, danger, catastrophe, exploitation, and loss. A multitude of children tried to flee but couldn’t. more

Shades of Whiteness: Perceiving Restoration Efforts of Formerly Jewish Spaces Within Poland

By Sierra Kaplan

Every Rynek can leave the average tourist entranced by beauty and history. Buildings of all hues and intricacies decorate all four sides of each historic market square, enmeshing and transporting the sightseer into the distant past. more

The Importance of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

By Kennedy Snyder

Throughout our time on the traveling seminar, I have found myself repeatedly becoming confused and uncertain about the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Heritage Sites. I had so many questions that returned at the many sites we visited. more

The Kotwica

By Ian Eisenbrand

In Polish, Kotwica means anchor. It is also the term used to describe an enduring, highly contested symbol of Polish resistance dating back to World War II. more

What is Effective Storytelling? City Wide Fantastical Creatures Compared to the Borderland Foundation

By Maddie Hartog

Krakow may be known for the dragon that lived beneath Wawel Hill Castle, but Wroclaw Poland, formerly Breslau Germany until 1945, is known for the mythical dwarves that line the streets. Two of Poland’s largest cities have clearly succeeded in creating mythical monuments that draw tourists to their city. more

Fortifying History: A Look at Castles in Poland

By Suryansh Singh

For me, visiting a castle is a mystical affair. Almost like a teleportation device, these architectural marvels hold the power to transcend one into a world very different from their daily existence, seamlessly coalescing the domains of fantasy and reality. more

“Forum” and “Shrine”: A Tool for Analyzing Museums

By Sofia DaCruz

I have visited many museums in my life, subconsciously consuming the collections and messages they portray with little analysis of their function or purpose. As we have moved through museums in Poland, guided by questions and discussions about their purposes, I have found a new lens to examine museums beyond their literal exhibitions. more

Civilians During Polish Uprisings Memorialized in Exhibitions: Men As “Brave” And Women As “Selfless”

By Abigail Wright

In “Around Us a Sea of Fire,” the first exhibition solely dedicated to the fate of Jewish civilians during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, echoes of Jewish resistance rested upon my chest, reverberating through my ears and the concrete walls of the dim “bunker” I was curled into. more

Cultures in Exile: The Impact of Ukrainian and Belarusian Identities on the Souls of Polish Cities

By Anna Meehan

You can tell a lot about a city from the sights and sounds of their centers. Home to restaurants, cafes, statues and gift shops, Wroclaw’s Old Town serves as the heart of this exuberant Polish city. more

© Copyright 2020 - Urban Labs Central Europe      Created by: DIGITALBATH, Hana Červinková & Juliet D. Golden