Olga Linkiewicz

is Assistant Professor at the Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences. She specializes in social history of modern Poland, history of social sciences, and memory studies which include fieldwork experience in Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland. She received her MA in cultural anthropology from Warsaw University (2001) and her PhD in history from the Polish Academy of Sciences (2009). In 2010 she was awarded the Polish journal Polityka Prize for Young Scholars and in 2011/12 she was Fulbright Commission Fellow at New York University and Columbia University. Her forthcoming book Localness and Nationalism: Rural Communities in Interwar Eastern Galicia (in Polish) uses retrospective ethnography to reconstruct social practices and attitudes of villagers in their own terms. Her recent publications include “Scientific Ideals and Political Engagement: Polish Ethnology and ‘the Ethnic Question’ between the Wars”, Acta Poloniae Historica 114 (2016) and “Applied Modern Science and the Self-Politicization of Racial Anthropology in Interwar Poland”, Ab Imperio 2 (2016).

Scientists as Intermediaries: Studies of Ethnicity and Race in Poland and the Interchange of Knowledge, 1918–1952


Scientists as Intermediaries is an account of the transnational circulation of social scientific knowledge, its dissemination, and translation of ideas for policy-relevant applications of research to societies. It argues that the studies of ethnicity and race which developed in interwar East Central Europe in a close relationship to the German-speaking scholarship and the anglosphere, as well as often unacknowledged influence of the Soviet project, are intimately interconnected with early American area studies. More specifically, my project traces links between epistemologies and practices of anthropology in the Second Polish Republic (1918–1939) and related social scientific endeavors conducted in the United States from the interwar period up to the early cold war. It attempts to understand the dissemination of knowledge, its appreciation, devaluation, and repudiation through analysis of direct and indirect interactions between scholars situated in their sociopolitical networks. Simultaneously, it proposes a shift of attention toward the “non-Western” arbiters of knowledge, and the implications of their agency in the development of the anthropological field as a means of intervening in society.