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UTA history professor awarded Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers

Patryk Babiracki, an associate professor in the Department of History at The University of Texas at Arlington, was awarded a Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Babiracki joined the College of Liberal Arts in 2009 and his work focuses on the history of the International Trade Fair in Poznań, a key city in Western Poland, during the Cold War. 

Patryk Babiracki, an associate professor in the Department of History at The University of Texas at Arlington.

The fellowship, based at the Berlin Center for Cold War, will extend over 18 months beginning in September 2017, to be preceded by four months of German language training also sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation.

Babiracki plans to develop a monograph dedicated to the history of the International Trade Fair in Poznań during the Cold War. The fair was one of only a few sites behind the Iron Curtain where people from around the globe met regularly to advertise their industrial and consumer products, to sign contracts for import and export of various goods, and to fight the Cold War. 

“This past year, I benefitted from a UTA Research Enhancement Program grant to carry out some archival research in U.S., British, Polish, French and Russian archives,” Babiracki said. “The Humboldt fellowship will help me to understand the role that the East- and West-German governments and institutions played in the shaping the dynamics of the fair and of the Cold War.”

Specifically, the study examines the Poznań fair between 1945 and 1989 as a battleground in the war of conflicting ideologies, cultures and socioeconomic systems, fought by government officials, businessmen, designers and spies.  It aims to understand the impact of the annual international interactions at the fair on the largely isolated world behind the Iron Curtain and on the outcomes of the Cold War.  

“The challenge of this kind of research is the sometimes complicated logistics of tracking down documents in archives across the world coupled with the sensitivity of the archival material that concerns such recent past,” Babiracki said. “But the rewards of discovering newly declassified documents from East European archives and being able to shape a conversation on issues that concern our past and our present can be also tremendously rewarding.”

Babiracki's most recent book examined the Soviet Unions efforts to build a postwar Eastern European empire through culture. 

According to Babiracki, the Cold War brings together several issues that are fascinating, challenging and also helpful to understanding our times. One such question focuses on how states worked to resolve international tensions across cultural boundaries and conflicting interests. Another issue central to the Cold War and contemporary concerns is the role played by modern culture and mass media in international power struggles.   

“Being part of an R-1 Research University, I could not be more delighted that Dr. Babiracki was awarded the Humboldt Fellowship to enrich his already extensive research on the Cold War,” said Elisabeth Cawthon, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “We are confident that his inquiries in Germany will contribute positively to the Department of History when he returns to campus.”

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 27,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 54 Nobel Prize winners.

Babiracki has received a number of previous fellowships for his research:

  • Volkswagen Foundation / Andrew W. Mellon Post-doctoral Fellowship, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
  • Title VIII Research Scholarship, the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, D.C.
  • Junior Research Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Studies, Central European University, Budapest, 2012-13
  • Józef Tischner Visiting Research Fellowship, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM), Vienna, July-December, 2010 (accepted August-December)

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution. With a projected global enrollment of close to 57,000 in AY 2016-17, UTA is the largest institution in The University of Texas System. Guided by its Strategic Plan Bold Solutions | Global Impact, UTA fosters interdisciplinary research within four broad themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and data-driven discovery. UTA was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as having the second lowest average student debt among U.S. universities. U.S. News & World Report also ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2017 Best for Vets list.