Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

She writes about her research with Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, professor and head of foreign languages and literatures

Zara Piracha ’11 (Karachi, Pakistan), a double major in economics & business and psychology, is performing EXCEL research with Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, professor and head of foreign languages and literatures, exploring the lack of a national identity within the Upper Lusatia-Lower Silesia region in Germany.

My research has involved looking at the history of a specific region in Europe: Upper Lusatia-Lower Silesia, a part of Germany that lies along the western borders of Poland and the Czech Republic. This region has had a tremendously interesting history, once belonging to the Czechs of Bohemia, then to the Habsburgs of Austria in 1526, only to be seized by the Hohenzollerns of Prussia and incorporated into united Germany in 1871.

In 1919, a greater part of the region was given to Poland as part of the Treaty of Versailles. Then in 1939, Upper Silesia was conquered by Nazi Germany, only to be reunited with Poland in 1945. Thus Upper Lusatia-Lower Silesia has become a melting pot of overlapping cultures, identities, religions, and ethnicities. The individuals who lived there, and many who still live there, have a multi-layered identity of their own, neither feeling completely Polish, Czech, or even German.

I have spent my time going though several books, articles, journals, and maps to create a timeline of the events that took place in this region for the last 500 years. Many of the sources are in German and although they have been tough to read, they have vastly helped to improve my vocabulary and writing skills. In the end, the purpose of my project has been to pick and choose information that I find relevant and to draft out a concise history of Upper Lusatia-Lower Silesia.

To me the most intriguing part of my research has been the people of this region. Around two million Silesians reside in Germany and another six hundred thousand in Poland, but many do not feel a sense of belonging to either country. They have a strong tie to the region and to the culture there, but speak a different dialect of German and Polish and do not feel welcomed by their ethnically German and Polish counterparts. So they do not identify nationally with the countries they reside in but locally within their expanse. Their need for self-determination is perhaps best likened to the need for Kashmir’s people to gain autonomy from Pakistan and India.

Categorized in: Academic News, German, News and Features, Student Profiles, Students
Tagged with: ,