Lecture and roundtable discussion with Cleveringa Professor Jan Grabowski
On 21 April 2022, Cleveringa Professor Jan Grabowski visited Leiden. The theme of his visit was the role of law and historiography in shaping collective memories.
Jan Grabowksi, professor at the University of Ottawa, holds the Cleveringa chair together with sociologist Barbara Engelking. They wrote a critical book about the Holocaust in Poland and were taken to court for it. Grabowski and Engelking were nominated by Leiden Law School and the Faculty of Humanities for the Cleveringa chair.
During his visit to Leiden University, Grabowski attended a lecture given by human rights activist Satko Mujagic in the Lorentz lecture hall at the Kamerlingh Onnes Building. Mujagic grew up in Bosnia, survived two concentration camps during the Yugoslavian war and since 2015 has been working for the European Commission as a policy officer. In his lecture, he talked about the challenges that survivors face today and the lack of historical awareness in both the Netherlands and the former Yugoslavia. Grabowski acted as a discussant and drew parallels with his study of how the Holocaust was dealt with in Poland after the Second World War. The concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity, in the spotlight again following the invasion of Ukraine, were also discussed.
Grabowski then attended a roundtable discussion at Leiden University’s Academy Building in which legal experts and historians talked about the use (and abuse) of law in shaping collective memories. Speakers were Larissa van den Herik (Professor of Public International Law in Leiden), Rick Lawson (Professor of European Law in Leiden), Bart van der Boom (Lecturer in history in Leiden), Rob van der Laarse (Professor of Cultural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam) and Marina Ban (researcher at the University of Copenhagen). In his closing words, Professor Grabowski spoke of the dangers of a State-imposed version of history, something that he and his colleague Engelking are still paying for today.