Edited volume

Katarzyna Chmielewska, Agnieszka Mrozik, Grzegorz Wołowiec (Hg.) (2021)

Reassessing Communism. Concepts, Culture, and Society in Poland, 1944–1989

Publishing house CEU Press
Place of publication Baltimore
Language English

ISBN: 978-963-386-378-7

The thirteen authors of this collective work undertook to articulate matter-of-fact critiques of the dominant narrative about communism in Poland while offering new analyses of the concept, and also examining the manifestations of anticommunism. Approaching communist ideas and practices, programs and their implementations, as an inseparable whole, they examine the issues of emancipation, upward social mobility, and changes in the cultural canon.

The authors refuse to treat communism in Poland in simplistic categories of totalitarianism, absolute evil and Soviet colonization, and similarly refuse to equate communism and fascism. Nor do they adopt the neoliberal view of communism as a project doomed to failure. While wholly exempt from nostalgia, these essays show that beyond oppression and bad governance, communism was also a regime in which people pursued a variety of goals and sincerely attempted to build a better world for themselves.

The book is interdisciplinary and applies the tools of social history, intellectual history, political philosophy, anthropology, literature, cultural studies, and gender studies to provide a nuanced view of the communist regimes in east-central Europe.


Introduction: Communism Studies in Central and Eastern Europe: A New Approach
Katarzyna Chmielewska, Agnieszka Mrozik, and Grzegorz Wołowiec

Part One: Critiques of the Dominant Narrative

1. The Red and the Brown: On the Nationalist Legitimation of Communism in Poland Once Again
Grzegorz Wołowiec

2. Communist (Auto)biographies: Teresa Torańska's Them: Stalin's Polish Puppets and the Contemporary Paradigms of Understanding the Past
Anna Artwińska

Part Two: New Analyses of Communism

3. Legitimation of Communism: To Build and to Demolish
Katarzyna Chmielewska

4. Eroticism and Power
Tomasz Żukowski

5. "'Cause a Girl Is People": Projects and Policies of Women's Emancipation in Postwar Poland
Agnieszka Mrozik

6. An Adventure in the Steelworks and in Mariensztat: Family and Emancipation of Women in 1950s Polish Cinema
Aránzazu Calderón Puerta

7. The "Adolescent Sphinx": (Post-)Thaw Novels for Girls
Eliza Szybowicz

8. "Here I Stand, I Cannot Do Otherwise": Around An Open Letter to the Party and the Notion of Revisionism in Discourse About the Political Opposition in 1960s Poland
Bartłomiej Starnawski

9. Socialist Education Ideals and Models of Patriotism: Some of the Problems of Polish Pedagogics and the Education Policy of the People's Republic of Poland in the 1970s
Anna Sobieska

Part Three: New Analyses of Anti-Communism

10. The Waning of Communism in the People's Republic of Poland: The Case of Discourse on Intelligentsia
Anna Zawadzka

11. The Thought of Stanisław Brzozowski in Polish Academic Writing and Journalism in the Years 1945–1974: Currents, Parallels, Polemics
Paweł Rams

12. Around Jerzy Andrzejewski's Miazga, Kazimierz Brandys' Nierzeczywistość, and Polish Leftist Thought of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s
Kajetan Mojsak

13. Scheming as a Business: "Communism" in the Language of the 1980s Opposition; The Example of The Little Conspirator
Krzysztof Gajewski