Kinga Siewior graduated from the Institute of Polish and Slavic Studies of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. As a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Polish Studies of the Jagiellonian University she is preparing a doctoral dissertation entitled Literature of the Regained Territories (and its Continuations) towards the Migrant Experience and Politics of Memory in Post-War Poland. She is the author of a book on intersections of the literary reportage and the photography Odkrywcy i turyści na afrykańskim szlaku. Fotografia w polskim reportażu podróżniczym XX wieku (Kraków 2012) and co-editor of the anthology of Central European avantgarde manifestoes Głuchy brudnopis. Antologia manifestów awangardy Europy Środkowej (Kraków 2015). Her research interests include memory studies, postsocialist studies, geopoetics and contemporary Polish and Post-Yugoslav literatures.
Transfers of Power and Tradition in Polish Resettlement Novel
In this paper I discuss migration experience in Polish postwar literature and focus on the discourse of “the Regained Territories” (territories annexed to Poland in 1945 as a result of the Potsdam Conference decisions pressed by the Soviet Union). While the emigration, mainly as exile, has been the subject of numerous studies in contemporary literary and cultural criticism in Poland, the problem of domestic migrations has been only recently problematized. In fact, the assimilation project of incorporating Western Borderlands was the crucial part of the official (cultural) discourse of the People’s Republic of Poland and was carried out by the aggressive propaganda of “polonization.” The post-war resettlement (relocation, repatriation) period generated a rich literary response I would like to use as my analytical material. I will argue that the ideological mechanisms behind processes of incorporating the Western Borderlands can be analyzed in terms of colonial discourse and epistemological conquest. Textual strategies in Western Borderlands novels turn out to be very similar to those which organized the Polish Eastern Borderlands narratives, which bore many symptomatic features of the colonial discourse (mainly: the eradication of local populations from settlers’ narratives; institutionalization of the Polish language and culture as higher and desirable, thus normative, etc.). However, in this case we have to take into account the fact that this paradoxical transfer of „great” (and „combative”) Polish tradition was set in strong frames of Sovietization/communization of Poland (1945-1989). Confronting the resettlement texts with the discourse on the Eastern Borderlands as well as with concepts of contemporary migration studies and with postcolonialism [turn establishments] I will try to examine the character of Polish migration experience and its representation in this comparative context, which is unique and yet also importantly linked to the postwar geopolitics. In this case, the „in-betweenness” of migrant’s condition includes more dimensions than Homi Bhabha mentioned: not only being between the past and present, there and here, but also being between positions of the colonizer and the colonized. In effect, my reflection on the resettlement novel seeks to contribute to the discussions on the identity of the post-migration society, but also on the Polish post-dependence condition in general.