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Landscapes of Polish memory: conflicting ways of dealing with the communist past in a Polish town

Witeska‐Młynarczyk, A.D.; (2010) Landscapes of Polish memory: conflicting ways of dealing with the communist past in a Polish town. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This research centres on the local acts of national memory politics and retributive justice performed in a Polish town during the years 2006‐2008, when a conservative Law and Justice Party government was in power. Looking at the political processes of conventionalizing and objectifying the communist past in authoritative settings (commemorative rituals, unveiling of monuments, courtrooms, associational meetings, Catholic masses) the author searched for patterns of inclusion and exclusion of political subjects into/from the commemorative landscape of the Polish historicized national community. The thesis concerns the two broadly defined categories of people who became politically engaged during communism: the anti‐communist activists and the ex‐officers of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. The author combines participant observation in various institutional settings with archival work, Critical Discourse Analysis of institutionalized discourses, analysis of material culture of commemoration and an in‐depth work on personal narratives, in order to address the mediating role which state and religious institutions, their agents, and the representations produced by them have played in individual processes of remembering, commemorating, and recalling. The thesis describes the conflicting ways in which the two groups of subjects have actively engaged in an interactive production of representations and claims concerning the communist past. It examines ways in which the institutionalization of memory has generated a cultural form of self-perception relying on a sequential and repeatable way of experiencing the self in a collectively achieved framework of ‘hero/victim’ or ‘perpetrator’. The author approaches the topic of memory by imagining it as a multidimensional figure, understanding the processes of individual remembering and constructing the self as located at the intersection of processes of perception, development of self-schemata, group interaction, and collective instances of objectification and conventionalizing.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Landscapes of Polish memory: conflicting ways of dealing with the communist past in a Polish town
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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