Beyond Disciplinary Communities | Poland National Network NUBS 2.04
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.13. Decentering Polish Memory I: Parallax Perspectives on East-Central European Pasts

Poland has in the last decade been a hot spot of memory politics. Especially in the years since the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) party came to power in 2015, Poland has become notorious not only as one of the backsliding enfants terribles of European politics (alongside Hungary), but also as a society with a deeply fractured memory regime (cf Bernhand and Kubik 2014) in which the government has taken the lead in promoting controversial policies of mnemonic populism (Kończal 2021). The tensions that have manifested themselves in various forms – from the Black Protests to the clashes over the Constitutional Tribunal to the politics of state museums – constitute an ongoing culture war, a war of symbols (Lewis and Waligórska 2019).This panel departs from the dominant trends in analyzing Poland's recent memory conflicts. Rather than examining the state-vs.-society axis that has (understandably) become the norm in today's political climate, it explores the peripheral, local, grassroots and alternative realms in which remembrance plays out in decentralized and depoliticized (or differently politicized) ways. The contributions by Polish and international scholars are multidisciplinary and employ different perspectives: from local ethnographies of commemoration to feminist readings of contemporary literature. Together, however, they show that there are far more nuanced and diverse memory processes taking place in Polish society than the state-centric models focusing on polityka historyczna or "culture wars" make apparent.

Alina Doboszewska

Recalling memory. Autobiographical narratives of Ukrainian women dissidentsThe totalitarian regime in the USSR was characterized primarily by a widely used strategy of invalidating memory. Enforc ...

NUBS 2.04 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Poland has in the last decade been a hot spot of memory politics. Especially in the years since the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) party came to power in 2015, Poland has become notorious not only as one of the backsliding enfants terribles of European politics (alongside Hungary), but also as a society with a deeply fractured memory regime (cf Bernhand and Kubik 2014) in which the government has taken the lead in promoting controversial policies of mnemonic populism (Kończal 2021). The tensions that have manifested themselves in various forms – from the Black Protests to the clashes over the Constitutional Tribunal to the politics of state museums – constitute an ongoing culture war, a war of symbols (Lewis and Waligórska 2019).
This panel departs from the dominant trends in analyzing Poland's recent memory conflicts. Rather than examining the state-vs.-society axis that has (understandably) become the norm in today's political climate, it explores the peripheral, local, grassroots and alternative realms in which remembrance plays out in decentralized and depoliticized (or differently politicized) ways. The contributions by Polish and international scholars are multidisciplinary and employ different perspectives: from local ethnographies of commemoration to feminist readings of contemporary literature. Together, however, they show that there are far more nuanced and diverse memory processes taking place in Polish society than the state-centric models focusing on polityka historyczna or "culture wars" make apparent.



Alina Doboszewska

Recalling memory. Autobiographical narratives of Ukrainian women dissidents

The totalitarian regime in the USSR was characterized primarily by a widely used strategy of invalidating memory. Enforced silence, both collective and individual, was often a condition for survival. The dissident movement, especially in Ukraine, opposed this invalidation of memory, actively sought to restore it − and was ruthlessly repressed for that. After the collapse of the system, memory of Ukrainian identity was restored. In the case of the dissident community, the collective memory of this group has been well preserved and described, but there is little space in it for women whose role in resistance to the system was very large, but remains concealed and underestimated. While the men spent most of their time in prisons and labor camps, the women fought to survive under the conditions of persecution by the KGB, running underground publishing houses and undertaking various activities for the benefit of the prisoners, and raising children who also did not escape persecution. The history of such seemingly ordinary and banal resistance is not written. Usually, resistance is identified as masculine and heroic according to the adrocentric patriarchal model. Only a few of the women have found a place in the collective memory of the dissident movement, and no research has been conducted on the participation of women in dissident activities in the USSR. On the basis of narrative autobiographical interviews, I want to examine the individual memory of dissidents in order to restore their rightful place in the collective memory of the dissident movement of the 1960-1980s. The point of reference here is research on the memory of women's participation in the Polish Solidarity movement and their resistance activities in the 1980s, which will help answer the question of how to integrate women's threads into the conceptual foundations of social history research, especially memory research.


Paula Maciejewski

Unlit Corridors of History: Olga Tokarczuk's Jacob's Books (2014) as a medium of memory

This paper discusses Olga Tokarczuk's historical novel Jacob's Books as a medium of memory. Adopting a critical literary and cultural studies perspective, I aim to analyze the relationship between literary fiction and historical 'facts' against the backdrop of an incomplete, male-dominated historiography. Tokarczuk's narrative will serve as a source for a feminist-oriented analysis of the double marginalization of Jewish women during the Frankist era. The first part of this paper will focus on the representation of multidimensional violence against Jewish women, which will be explored with analytical categories such as objectification and male gaze in the context of patriarchal power structures. The second part of the analysis will be concerned with the aspect of intermediality and the problematics of a historiography that leaves Jewish women on the margins. Here I will take a closer look at the archive images within the historical novel and conduct a comparative analysis between the visual sources and the text in order to critically reflect the image's (alleged) truthfulness as a historical source. By connecting literary and cultural studies analytical tools with a gender studies approach, this paper aims to show how Tokarczuk's innovative prose can shed light on the fate of Jewish women missing in Polish historical mainstream-narrative, thereby also challenging and critically reflecting the limitations of conventional historiography.


Agnes Malmgren

Cherishing the memories you have. Practices of place care and remembrance in contemporary Nowa Huta

In recent years, there has been a growing scholarly interest in the cultural and political significance of joyful, positive and nostalgic memories and forms of remembrance. Without downplaying the role of trauma and oppression in the mnemonic makeup of contemporary societies, memory scholars have pointed to the co existence, or parallel existence, of brighter recollections of the past, and to their role in bringing about hope and social mobilization (Katriel & Reading 2015; Rigney 2018; Sindbæk Andersen & Ortner 2019). Engaging with these streams of thought, my presentation will offer a closer look at the interplay between memories of friendship and mutual care, and remembrance as a form of caring (Till 2012), which enables the continuation and/or formation of solidaric bonds, practices, and ideas. Empirically, the presentation departs from Nowa Huta, a district in Kraków, which was initially founded in 1949 as the "first socialist town in Poland", and which eventually, in the 1980s, turned into a bastion of the oppositional Solidarity movement. After 1989, Nowa Huta became fertile ground for memory work of different kinds: commemorations, exhibitions, nostalgic venues and paraphernalia, along with heated debates on the matter of remembrance. While divisive in the public sphere, memory has simultaneously served as a creative and cohesive force for many of the local communities, of different creed, which put their mark on contemporary Nowa Huta. Drawing on ethnographic field work, my presentation will illustrate the role of memory, in it's explicit as well as implicit (embodied, non commemorative) forms (cf. Connerton 1989; Schudson 1997; Erll 2022), in sustaining care and friendship within a few of these communities. It will also show the wider entanglements of these communal memories; how they relate and sometimes serve as corrections to diverging representations of the past and how they are passed on from their 'original' confines to a younger generation of locally involved inhabitants in Nowa Huta. In that way, they function as a kind of springboard, a resource, for continuous place based caring within and for the

PhD student
,
Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University
Doctoral Student
,
University of Bremen
Dr
,
Lund University, SOL
 Małgorzata Łukianow
assistant professor
,
Uni of Warsaw
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