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Beata Nykiel

Beata Nykiel is a historian-archivist and heritage specialist, currently working as Deputy Head of the Research Institute of European Heritage at the International Cultural Centre (ICC) in Krakow, Poland (www.mck.krakow.pl), a centre of excellence for heritage studies in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been a heritage specialist at the ICC since 2006, and within this period organized and coordinated 25 international conferences, round-tables, and seminars, particularly with Central and Eastern European partners. She is a member of the editorial team of the ICC quarterly Herito (www.herito.pl), and her research focuses on Eastern European heritage studies and related issues.

She is an author of many scholarly articles on the eastern borderlands and early modern social history of the area, as well as on Central European heritage. Recently she has been appointed the ICC coordinator for the joint Russian-Polish project for the exhibition on The Polish Petersburg to be completed in 2015.

 

The purpose of my fellowship days in St. Petersburg was two-fold. First, I wanted to obtain a general overview of heritage studies in modern Russia based on St. Petersburg heritage institutions and professionals. Secondly, I wanted to understand the subject of Poles in St. Petersburg and their presence there from the late 18th century to present. The ability to move around and learn about the city’s specific context was of major importance.

 

It was an interesting experience to exchange views and ideas with both Russian and American colleagues and to find that, despite obvious differences, some issues are in common and need mutual reflection and a continuation of the exchange. Our main discussion topics were focused on heritage legislation, mainly on the inaptitude of its executive powers, as well as civic society engagement in the project and planning processes and heritage maintenance. Heritage and memory, in terms of lieux de memoires and growing interest in intangible heritage turned out to be of equal importance. There was no doubt for all of us that our institutional cooperation, experience, and exchange has to be continued on a regular basis. St. Petersburg, which I had a chance to visit for the first time, makes a huge impression on any visitor, especially in terms of its unique aesthetics and its planning solutions. It was very fun to look at its historical monuments, both from the professional heritage and historian perspective, especially having in mind the idea of a joint Polish-Russian exhibition project on The Polish Petersburg to be prepared for 2015. In tracing Polish presence in St. Petersburg’s historic surrounding, I have been hoping it was not my last visit but just the beginning of long lasting intellectual adventure. I have been impressed by some of the Likhachev Foundation projects and the professionalism of its team.  The same could be said about the architects’ studios that we had a chance to visit with my American colleague. There is no doubt that in coming years, my scholarly interest both as historian and heritage specialist will frequently return to a magic St. Petersburg and its people”.