[Kolloquium] Constructing New Identities in Eastern Poland

17.04.2014 (10:00)

Prof. Dr. Tomasz Zarycki (Warsaw): Constructing New Identities in Eastern Poland: Between the Old ‘Kresy’ and the New ‘Borderland’ Discourses

The Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies opened its summer semester colloquiums on Wednesday, April 9th with a guest speaker from Poland. Prof. Dr. Tomasz Zarycki, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Social Studies at the University of Warsaw spoke at the Historicum in Munich to the doctoral students and to other members of the Graduate School. His interesting talk “Constructing New Identities in Eastern Poland: Between the Old ‘Kresy’ and the New ‘Borderland’ Discourses” was closely linked to his most recent book Ideologies of Eastness in Central and Eastern Europe (Routledge 2014).

Professor Zarycki conducted case studies in three cities in Eastern Poland: Białystok, Lublin and Rzeszów. The goal of his research was to examine, if and to which extend the three cities had developed ambitions in the recent past and present to emancipate themselves from their historical background and to develop a new self-perception. As the core assumption for his research Professor Zarycki determined a negative attitude in Poland towards eastness, closely linked to the term orientalism and caused by a very negative image of Russia. Professor Zarycki explained how different strategies can be chosen to deal with and to reframe the past and a negative historical image, ranging from declaring oneself as a victim to marginalization, rejection and redefinition. In the end the speaker visualized how the individual strategy in each city looked like and evaluated the image-change from his point of view as a historian.

In the following active debate many interesting questions raised, ranging from the comparison to other post-soviet countries and cities to the most recent political developments in Ukraine.

Henner Kropp