07 SES 12 C, Celebrating and Displaying Diversity
When considering the subject of Central Europe present in scientific, literary and journalistic discourse, we are faced with a major challenge. That is so because the term is ambiguous, undetermined, has an unclear status – but at the same time it has been described and thought over by the most distinguished intellectuals many times.
An unusual concentration of many ethnic groups, nations, languages, religions and cultures on a small territory is a characteristic feature of Central Europe (Davies, Moorhouse 2002), so it is obvious that the history of ethnic, national and religious minorities is involved here as well the issue of multiculturalism.
I am sociologist interested in the Central European issues. For several years I’ve been conducting my self-created classes titled “Culture of ours neighbors”. Thus, the title “neighbors” are both external neighbors, that is, nations inhabiting countries that are geographically neighboring to Poland, as well as internal neighbors, i.e. national and ethnic minorities in our country.
In this paper I would like to focus a case study. After the IIWW Poland seems to be a homogenic and monoethnic country. As my intention is to show my students that this is not a complete image, I concentrate my lectures also on the ethnic minorities living in our country. One of those are Lemkos. Especially one of moments of their history is fascinating. It was the end of the several centuries existence of their homeland.
Operation Vistula (Polish: Akcja "Wisła") was a codename for the 1947 forced resettlement of Lemkos, Polish citizens from the south-eastern provinces of post-war Poland, to the Recovered Territories in the west of the country. During three months, over 140,000 persons were resettled. The consequences in social and cultural domain were dramatical. For the Lemko people the Vistula Operation constitues a traumatic border between the past in their „small homeland” and the future on the exile.
Last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Operation Vistula. The questions, that arise to me after conducting several courses about Lemkos and after observing the celebrations are as follows:
- What is the knowledge of Polish students on the subject of the Lemkos and the Operation Vistula;
- What is the historical policy of the state in this matter (it is about the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Vistula Action and public discourse related to this event)
As an interpretative framework, I would like to adopt postcolonial theory. Its classic version related to countries actually affected by the colonialism of Western powers originates from the famous work of Edward Said (1978). However, since 1980, among Central European thinkers there are attempts to match this perspective to their own situation. In 1988 the Wheatland Foundation held the second of a series of conferences assembling writers of East and West. The writers, poets and critics gathered together in Lisbon („Cross Currents” 1990),
Josef Škvorecký, György Konrád, Danilo Kiš, Czesław Miłosz, in the discussion with Tatiana Tolstoy and Josif Brodski recognized - according to Milan Kundera - the existence of Central Europe as a decolonization act and accused the Russian writers of a colonizing approach.
Since the 1990s, next important and influential works have been published, in various ways dealing with the subject of adaptation of postcolonialism to Central European analyzes. Let me mention here Wolff (1994), Thompson (2000), Todorova (1997) and Cavanagh (2004), Moore (2001)… In subsequent years, the literature is still growing, various trends and competing original approaches are being created (see, for example, Snochowska-Gonzalez 2017, Gosk, Karwowska 2008 and others).
As both areas: student knowledge and public discourse are among my scope of interest, I decided to conduct two parallel studies, basing on qualitative methodology. Firstly, using a questionnaire (open questions) I examined two groups of students: first year students of sociology (who had not yet participated in my course "Cultures of ours neighbors") and students from various faculties of the University of Warsaw participating in a course for mountain guides (including also the knowledge about the cultural heritage of lands once inhabited by the Lemkos). It could have been assumed that this second group could be particularly more interested in the subject. Following questions have been asked: 1. Are you aware of the existence of Lemkos in Poland? If so, how? 2. Did you learn about Lemkos , Łemkowszczyzna (Lemko-land) and Operation Vistula at the school/ university? 3. Have you had the opportunity to find out about them in a different way? 4. and if so, what is your reception of recent celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Vistula Action? The second part of the study includes an analysis of discourse: the content of press from April 2017 regarding the anniversary celebrations.
The analysis of both the students' awareness and the image of the public discourse leaded to rather depressing conclusions. Firstly, the existence of the giant gap of knowledge. Polish students in my research have no knowledge of the history and culture of the countries of Central Europe, especially, no knowledge about Lemkos and Operation Vistula. This is probably the part of a wider phenomenon, that is low level of general student's knowledge observed by the university staff. Students who take part in a specialized course for mountain guides have knowledge about this subject, but it is not from the school, but they gained this knowledge due to their particular interest. Secondly, the ideology in the service of politics. The message in the discourse is incomplete and full of distortions. We can evoke some categories from the scope of the postcolonial theory and often use them for the analysis of the Polish discourse about Lemkos and Operation. Especially I think about the modern "orientalisation" which is not different from its classical understanding. Therefore the analysed discourse could present the region Lemkowszczyzna and their inhabitants in a mythologized manner as Other, Different, devoid of their own voice, stigmatized with inferiority. The authors take the blame and the responsibility for the Operation Vistula from Poles, by transferring it to the "authorities communist ", emphasizing their soviet provenience. Authors also diminish the trauma and suffering of victims, and the social consequences of the forced resettlements. Thus, the research brings the need to formulate recommendations, mainly concerning changes in the educational process. I think that the knowledge of the history of Central Europe is essential for a modern humanist in Poland, in order to understand the culture in which they live and be able to discover the richness and value of our part of the continent.
Cavanagh, C., 2004, Postcolonial Poland, „Common Knowledge", Vol. 10, Issue 1 (Winter) Davies N., R. Moorhouse, 2002, Mikrokosmos. Portret miasta środkowoeuropejskiego, Vratislavia, Breslau, Wrocław. Znak: Cracow. Gosk H., B. Karwowska (ed.), 2008, Nieobecność: pominięcia i przemilczenia w narracjach XX wieku, Elipsa: Warsaw. Krajewski A., A. Wojciechowski, Studenci są coraz głupsi? Czy to szkoła nie daje rady?, "Newsweek" 10.10.2011. Moore D. Ch., 2001, Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Postcolonial Critique. “PMLA”, 116.1. Said E., 1978, Orientalism, Pantheon Books: New York. Snochowska-Gonzalez C., 2017, Wolność i pisanie. Dorota Masłowska i Andrzej Stasiuk w postkolonialnej Polsce, Oficyna Naukowa: Warsaw. The Lisbon Conference on Literature: Central Europe and Russian Writers, „Cross currents. A Yearbook of Central European Culture”, Volume 9(1990). Thompson, E. M., 2000, Imperial Knowledge. Russian Literatute and Colonialism, Greenwood Press: Westport, Connecticut, London. Todorova, M., 1997, Imagining the Balkans, Oxford University Press, New York & Oxford. Wolff, L., 1994, Inventing Eastern Europe. The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment, Stanford University Press, Stanford.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.