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Changing Polish Identities

Post-War and Post-Accession Polish Migrants in Manchester


Agniezka Bielewska-Mensah

This book discusses how globalization transforms national identity, comparing the assertion that globalization disembeds national culture with contrasting claims that identities remain primarily anchored in national space. It examines the impact of mobility on identity and explores the role of virtual worlds in preserving national culture.
The investigation is based around a case study looking at two very different groups of Polish migrants in Manchester: those who settled in the city after the Second World War and those who arrived after Poland joined the European Union in 2004. A comparison of the two groups reveals a fascinating transformation in the process of identity formation, which has led to the clearly defined modern identity of the post-war migrants being replaced by a postmodern, multidimensional sense of self in the post-accession migrants.


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Chapter 4 Comparing and Explaining the Geographies of Identity


1 After mapping both the post-war and post-accession migrants’ identity, I want to bring the observations on these two groups together to analyse how national identity patterns have changed between these two generations. It is obvious that the two groups of Poles in Manchester express and perform their national identity in significantly dif ferent ways. The emerging ques- tions are why these ways are dif ferent and what these dif ferences say about modern and postmodern national identity. In looking for the answers, I will summarize the previous analysis of the geographies of the migrants’ identity in order to discuss the similarities and dif ferences between the groups and I will then attempt to identify the factors which shape the national identities of these groups in such dif ferent ways. Choice of Location In order to build a full picture of the national geographies of post-war and post-accession migrants I need to find the similarities and dif ferences in such traits as the choice of location, home-making practices, domestication of urban space, daily routines, networks and the virtual space of migrants. The choice of location is very important for geographies of identity because 1 A shorter version of this chapter was published as A. Bielewska (2012), ‘The Geographies of National Identity – the Modern and Postmodern National Identities of Poles in Manchester’, Ethnicities, 12 (1). 144 Chapter 4 it may be an indicator of social segregation. As I have shown in the previ- ous chapters, the post-war and post-accession migrants’ choice...

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