The Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora was established by a decision of the Senate of the Jagiellonian University in November 2004. The institute is an interdisciplinary unit employing historians, sociologists, political scientists, and literary scholars; it was created from the merging of several previously-existing units.
The Institute of Polish Diaspora and Ethnic Studies
The first of those was the Institute of Polish Diaspora and Ethnic Studies, which had been established in 1972 in order to conduct research on the issues of ethnicity, international migrations, multiculturalism, and nationalisms and regionalisms in the world, especially in relation to Polish communities living abroad. The Institute of Polish Diaspora and Ethnic Studies was one of the most important Polish centers of research and the teaching of Polish as a foreign language as well as issues associated with the international migrations of Poles, problems of ethnicity and migration, and Polish literature abroad. In 2004, the Institute of Polish and Ethnic Studies was dissolved and its chairs were incorporated, among others, into the Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora (the Chair in the Sociology of National and Ethnic Relations and the Chair in International Migration Movements).
The Institute of Regional Studies
The Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora also included two chairs: the Chairs in American and Latin American Studies and the Department of Canada, which formed a part of the Institute of Regional Studies until 2004. This institute was intended to be a unit bringing together scholars focusing on individual global regions: North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, and East Asia. Changes in the structure of the Institute of Regional Studies resulted from the fact that the research that was being conducted in the field of regional studies (area studies) was becoming increasingly popular and robust. Scholars focusing on three of the world’s regions (Europe, the Americas, and Russia and Eastern Europe) decided to establish separate institutes, while the Chair in International Cultural Studies and the Chair in the Middle and Far East remained within the Institute of Regional Studies.
The Beginnings of American Studies at the Jagiellonian University
Department of American Studies is the largest unit of the Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora. Between 1991 and 2004, this unit functioned as an independent research unit of the Jagiellonian University under the name of the Interfaculty Department of American Studies. The goal of IDAS was to acquaint Polish students with various issues concerning the United States. Today, the Department of American Studies continues the tradition, of cooperation with scholars from other faculties of the university who focus on American matters in their research and can share their knowledge with students, a tradition that had begun in the times of the Interfaculty Department of American Studies. The founder and supervisor of IDAS was Professor Andrzej Mania, who until 2019 headed the Chair in American Studies (whose name was changed to the Department of American Studies in 2019, while at the same time serving as the head of the Chair in History of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Institute of Political Science and International Relations. In 1995, a doctoral program was launched at IDAS, and the first doctoral dissertation was defended in March 2000.
The Chair in the History of International Migration Movements
The Chair was established in 1976 along with the creation of the interdisciplinary Institute of Polish Diaspora Research of the Jagiellonian University whose staff includes sociologists, linguists, literary scholars, and historians. Prof. Mirosław Frančić became the first head of the chair. In subsequent years, this position was held by Prof. Andrzej Brożek, Prof. Halina Florkowska-Frančić, and Prof. Adam Walaszek (since 1991 until 2021).
The chair’s early research focused primarily on the history of the Polish diaspora in the U.S., Australia, Switzerland, France, and Canada; overseas Polish immigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; as well as the migrations of other national groups from the areas of partitioned Poland and later from independent Poland. Scholars from the chair have closely collaborated with, among others, the team conducting research on Polish economic emigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led by Prof. Andrzej Pilch of the Institute of History of the Jagiellonian University as well as the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
During the 1980s, scholars from the chair co-created fundamental bibliographical and archival guides on the history of the Polish diaspora and emigration. They have also conducted innovative projects on social memory about emigration from the Podhale region and a synthesis of the history of the Polish diaspora. For many years, scholars working for the chair have actively participated in the international discourse on migration and the history of ethnicity, maintaining extensive contacts with scientific centers in Europe, the U.S., and Australia, including the University of Lund in Sweden and Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. These contacts result in the exchange of publications, organization of international symposia, and joint research projects until today.
On October 1, 2021, the The Chair in the History of International Migration Movements ended its work; its academic achievements are continued by the Chair of Migration and Ethnic Studies.
The Faculty of International and Political Studies
The Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora is currently a part of the Faculty of International and Political Studies. It was established pursuant to a resolution of the Senate of the Jagiellonian University of December 20th, 2000, and became the twelfth faculty of our university. Prof. Andrzej Mania became the Dean of the Faculty of International and Political Studies, while Prof. Władysław Miodunka and Dr. Hab. Barbara Stoczewska became Vice-Deans. The current structure of the Faculty of International and Political Studies can be found on the faculty’s website.
The Fundamental Goals of the Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora
The main goal of the Institute’s activities is to conduct research in the field of American studies, Polish diaspora, ethnic studies, and Latin America. The institute is also active in the area of teaching, offering B.A. and M.A. studies in American studies, international migrations, Latin American studies, and Transatlantic studies.
Since the beginning of its functioning, the premises of the institute were located in the historic Spiski Palace (Main Market Square 34). In 2020, the Institute was relocated to the renovated building on 4 Reymonta Street, which is also the current seat of the Faculty of International and Political Studies of the Jagiellonian University.