New Interpretations in Polish-Jewish Studies
Polishness in Practice
I live in the United States and frequently encounter the promotion of Poland by Polish state institutions – something along the lines of “Poland for foreigners.” Since 1989, this promotion has been very intense; Polish diplomatic and cultural institutions have been intently changing Poland’s “brand.” The first stage of this campaign, spanning the years 1990–2004 approximately, was “transitological”: Poland was “in transition,” a “normal” country, just like any other European country, returning to its usual, pre-Soviet-dominance way of being, ready to join the European family as a full and rightful member. This stage began right after the legislative election of June 1989, and had as its objective Poland’s entrance into the European Union and Atlantic institutions. “Normalcy” was the keyword.
Around 2004, when Poland became a member of NATO and major European bodies, the projected image of Poland started to change. This second stage turned the politics of normalcy into the politics of trauma. The Righteous Among the Nations – people involved in saving Jews during World War II – were projected as the face of Poland, with the life stories of Jan Karski and Irena Sendler being the most energetically promoted. Poland was not a country just like any other anymore; it became a country of suffering.
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