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From “De Facto King” to Peasants’ Communes

A Struggle for Representation in the Discourse of the Polish Great Emigration, 1832–1846/48

Piotr Kuligowski


This article presents a conceptual history of representation in the political debates of the Polish émigré community in the period 1832–1846/48. As I argue, while the concept was present in the output of all political environments of the Polish Great Emigration, there were more discrepancies than similarities about how to understand it. As a result of debates about what the Polish diaspora in exile actually was and who had the right to represent it, the concept became a part and parcel of political frays. In this way, the right to use it—and consequently to represent the whole Polish community and Polish nation as well—occupied a central place in the evolution of the concept of representation.

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Everyday Madness

On Anger, Loss and Psychoanalysis

Lisa Appignanesi


There is a troubled legacy that is visible in so many of the illiberal populisms that currently seem to plague our democracies. One thing they have in common is the idea of a return to a period hazy in memory which was somehow better, greater than the present. Transposed to an individual level, we are evoking emotions attached to a childhood home. Freud's ideas on the unconscious and its important place in our everyday lives emerged at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century. After 1918 he became increasingly preoccupied by groups, societies and nations. Under the pressure of Nazism, he turned his attention to antisemitism, exploring the impact of repression and ‘the return of the repressed’. Born in Poland shortly after the war, the author, in what was a 2019 Keynote Lecture in Warsaw, explores the after-effects of her parents’ wartime history and her own angry responses to an experience of loss and mourning.

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Joanna Wojdon

This article analyzes textbooks and curricula for primary schools in Poland published between 1944 and 1989 to show how the communist regime attempted to influence Polish history education via political change and educational reform. The article focuses on five aspects of this influence: Marxist methodology of history, portrayals of political parties, promotion of a “scientific“ worldview, justification of new boundaries and alliances of the People's Poland, and a new pantheon of national heroes. In conclusion, the article investigates the effectiveness of history education in shaping Polish collective memory under the communist regime.

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The Politics of Historical Memory in Germany

Brandt's Ostpolitik, the German-Polish History Textbook Commission, and Conservative Reaction

Yangmo Ku

Prior to the late 1960s, German history textbooks lacked coverage of Poland and depicted Germany's eastern neighbor with negative images. The 1970s and 1980s, however, witnessed positive changes to the contents of German school textbooks—particularly with respect to their descriptions of Poland and German-Polish relations. How and why did Germany promote a more reflective view of history and correct negative descriptions of the Poles in German history textbooks between the 1970s and 1980s? This article addresses this question by focusing on the influence of Brandt's Ostpolitik and on the activities of the German-Polish History Textbook Commission. The article also shows how contemporary conservative reaction was not powerful enough to reverse these positive changes to German history textbooks.

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Between Science and Utopia

Physical and Astronomical Notions within French and Polish Fourierism

Piotr Kuligowski and Quentin Schwanck


This article investigates the role of physical and astronomical notions in the formation process of transnational political ideologies. It does so by focusing on the striking example of nineteenth-century early socialist movements, particularly Fourierism. Indeed, Fourier's bold cosmogony enabled him to connect many fields of knowledge, and soon became a powerful vehicle for his ideas on the international scale. The article likewise analyses the ideological process through which Fourierist astronomical conceptions were adopted by foreign socialists, focusing on examples of Polish thinkers such as Jan Czyński and Stanisław Bratkowski who, in drawing on Fourierist ideas and usage of scientific terms, tried to embed his vocabulary in the ongoing nineteenth-century debates about Polish history and, more generally, the burning issue of the independence of the Polish state. Our comparative analysis highlights the contextual influences which contributed to re-shaping such ideas within a new absorbing context.

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Irene Sywenky

This article examines post 1989 Polish literary production that addresses German-Polish history and border relations in the aftermath of World War II and participates in the German-Polish dialogue of reconciliation. I consider the methodological implications of border space and spatial memory for the analysis of mass displacements in the German-Polish border region with particular attention to spatiocultural interstitiality, deterritorialization, unhomeliness, and border identity. Focusing on two representative novels, Stefan Chwin's Death in Danzig and Olga Tokarczuk's House of Day, House of Night, I argue that these authors' attention to geospatiality, border space, and displacement forms a distinct characteristic of Polish border narratives. Chwin's and Tokarczuk's construction of interstitial border spaces reflects a complex dynamic between place, historical memory, and self-identification while disrupting and challenging the unitary mythologies of the nation. With their fictional re-imagining of wartime and postwar German-Polish border region, these writers participate in the politics of collective memory of the border region and the construction and articulation of the Polish perspective that shapes the discourse of memory east of the border.

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Antony Polonsky

Antony Polonsky has just completed a three-volume history The Jews in Poland and Russia Volume 1, 1350–1881; Volume 2, 1881–1914 (Oxford, 2010); Volume 3, 1914–2008 (Oxford, 2012). In 2011, the book was awarded the Kulczycki Prize of the American Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies for the best book in any discipline on any aspect of Polish affairs, and in 2012, it won the Pro historia Polonorum prize by the Senate of the Republic of Poland for the best book on Polish history in a foreign language published in the last five years. This article describes how the book came to be written, describing the influence of the author's youth in apartheid South Africa, his decision to study the history of twentieth century Poland and his involvement with the Solidarity Movement. As one of the organisers of the conferences in the 1980s and as principal editor of Polin: Studies in Polish-Jewry, he has been at the centre of the developments which have transformed our understanding of the Polish-Jewish past and Polish-Jewish relations. The article describes how he came to write his three-volume history and what he hoped to achieve in this way.

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Jaro Stacul

application materials for the title of European Capital of Culture make it clear, this association is particularly a reference to the city being the birthplace of Solidarność. 8 The significance, in Polish history, of this workers’ movement contrasts with the

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Monika Rudaś-Grodzka, Katarzyna Nadana-Sokołowska, Anna Borgos, and Dorottya Rédai

women’s contribution to Polish history and society. The description of literary, social, and political relationships among women in earlier times will also enable adequate and in-depth analysis of the contemporary image of the Eastern European female

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Jorge Catala-Carrasco, Richard Graham, Olga Nowak, and Sandra Rousseau

to understand not only the nature of Polish comics but also Polish cultural production as such. Kaczyński highlights key moments in Polish history, creating natural divisions in the volume's structure. The history of the medium in Poland is then told