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Being and Becoming European in Poland


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An exploration of what it means to be Polish as its population ‘becomes European’ following Poland’s entry into the European Union.

Overthrowing communism in 1989 and joining the European Union in 2004, the Polish people hold loyalties to region, country and now continent – even as the definition of what it means to be ‘European’ remains unclear. This book uses the life-story narratives of rural and urban southern Poles to reveal how ‘being European’ is considered a fundamental component of ‘being Polish’ while participants are simultaneously ‘becoming European’.

Close attention to the individual lives of Poles allows the author to identify cultural patterns and grasp the impact of the EU on its member states, paying particular attention to how the EU has affected the life experiences of Poles who came of age in the earliest years of the neoliberal and democratic transformations. In exploring what it means to be Polish by tracking these parallel processes of change, the author traces Poland’s path from state socialism to European integration and Polish identities as they are reinscribed, revised and reinvented in the face of historic, political and economic processes.

Ultimately, this study demonstrates how the EU is regarded as both an idea and an instrument, and how ordinary citizens make choices that influence the shape of European identity and the legitimacy of its institutions.

List of Figures and Tables; Acknowledgments; 1: Introduction: Being and Becoming European in Postcommunist Poland; 2: ‘We Have Always Been in Europe’: Deploying the Past to Shape the Present; 3: ‘Unbelievable! Poles Are Happy’: Looking Toward the Future; 4: ‘We’re European because We’re Polish’: Local, National and European Identities; 5: ‘EU Membership Gives Poland a Better Chance’: Perspectives on European Integration; 6: ‘Now We Can Travel Without a Passport’: Mobility in the European Union; 7: ‘This Region is Our Priority’: EU Subsidies and the Development of a Transnational Regional Community; 8: Conclusion: Coming of Age in Europe; Appendix: List of Participants; Notes; References; Index



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Published 01 June 2014
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EAN13 9781783082346
Language English
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Being and Becoming European in Poland
Being and Becoming European in Poland
European Integration and SelfIdentity
Marysia H. Galbraith
Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2014 by ANTHEM PRESS 75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
Copyright © 2014 Marysia H. Galbraith
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library CataloguinginPublication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data Galbraith Marysia H. Being and becoming European in Poland : European integration and selfidentity / Marysia H. Galbraith. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN13: 9781783082308 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN10: 1783082305 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Polish people–Ethnic identity. 2. European Union–Membership–Social aspects– Poland. 3. National characteristics, Polish. 4. Postcommunism–Poland. I. Title. DK4121.G35 2014 303.48’243804–dc23 2014011577
ISBN13: 978 1 78308 230 8 (Hbk) ISBN10: 1 78308 230 5 (Hbk)
Cover photo courtesy of Paweł Dobosz.
This title is also available as an ebook.
List of Figures and Tables Acknowledgments
Chapter 1 Introduction: Being and Becoming European in Postcommunist Poland LongTerm Fieldwork Anthropological Studies of the European Union Anthropological Studies of Nation and Ethnicity Anthropological Studies of Self A PersonCentered Approach to European Integration and Collective Identities
Chapter 2 “We Have Always Been in Europe”: Deploying the Past to Shape the Present Bartek: Historical Consciousness in the TwentyFirst Century Deploying the Past to Shape the Present National Mythology: Polish Messianism and the Heroic Ideal National Mythologies in Everyday Life Corruption of a glorious past The history that matters is personal Past and future in Europe The Smolensk Disaster History of Katyn Commemoration and controversy A country divided? Competing explanations of the tragedy Moving Forward Aneta: Not the Christ of Nations Anymore
ix xi
1 4 10 16 20
27 27 29 30 36 38 39 41 44 45 46 50 52 53
pter 3 “Unbelievable! Poles Are Happy”: Looking toward the Future Józef: Building a Future Unbelievable! Poles Are Happy! The 1990s: Living in the Present The TwentyFirst Century: Looking toward the Future Education Mortgages Children Retirement “Even the Crisis Didn’t Work Out” Wiola: Everything on Schedule
pter 4 “We’re European because We’re Polish”: Local, National and European Identities Wojtek: Pole, European and Euroskeptic Imagining Territorial Scales of Social Organization Attachment to Place: Quality and Intensity at Different Scales Talking about region Talking about nation Talking about Europe European Integration and Territorial Scales of Belonging Do scales of belonging preclude each other? Which do you consider your priority? Which describes you best? Being and Becoming European Marek: I Can Live Anywhere
pter 5 “EU Membership Gives Poland a Better Chance”: Perspectives on European Integration Ewelina: Prospects for a Better Life in the European Union Becoming European: Overview of the Integration Process Association Candidacy Accession Perspectives on the European Union Economic opportunity vs. consumer market Governance: Transnational order vs. external control
57 57 59 61 68 69 72 74 75 77 80
83 83 85 88 89 93 96 98 98 101 103 107 108
113 113 116 118 119 121 123 125 126
Implications for the European Union Krzysiek: Let Someone Else Govern Us
pter 6 “Now We Can Travel without a Passport”: Mobility in the European Union Dorota: Opportunity and Loss in England Mobility in the European Union History of Polish Migration “I Can Go Abroad with just My ID Card, and I Can Work Legally” Eased restrictions on mobility Social advancement and social demotion in an imagined world hierarchy Global mobility and the choice to stay home Traveling without a Passport Stasiek: Transnational Entrepreneur
pter 7 “This Region Is Our Priority”: EU Subsidies and the Development of a Transnational Regional Community Joasia: Social Entrepreneur Using EU Subsidies: Social Entrepreneurs, Public Servants and Flexible Farmers EU Programs and Local Projects Agriculture Infrastructure Regional culture EU Standards and New Ways of Being Transnational Regional Community Halina: Organic Farmer
Chapter 8
Appendix: List of Notes References Index
Conclusion: Coming of
Age in Europe
131 133
137 137 140 143
149 149
151 155 157 158
163 163
166 168 169 173 175 181 187 189
203 207 215 229
Figures 1.1. Krakow’s Old City is vibrant with street life, art and history 1.2. A recently renovated fountain at the center of Lesko 1.3. Village on Lake Solina in the Bieszczady Region 1.4. Every hour, a trumpeter plays an interrupted tune from the tower of St. Mary’s Church in Krakow’s Central Square 2.1.Victory to theKing Jan III Sobieski Sending Message of Popeby Jan Matejko, 1880 2.2. Warsaw, April 2013. The “defenders of the cross” return to the presidential palace to commemorate President Lech Kaczyński’s death in a plane crash near Katyn 3.1. “Unbelievable! Poles Are Happy!”Politykacover, 13–19 July 20113.2. The liquidated state farm in Lesko was still empty and for sale in 2008 3.3. In the late 1990s, construction of new apartments such as these in Krakow signalled economic development and growing confidence in the future 3.4. Poland: Here even the crisis didn’t work out 4.1. Territorial identities: indivisible vs. nested 5.1. Support and opposition to European integration 7.1. Rural farmers are investing in tourist facilities to encourage “agritourism” 7.2. Sign marking EU funding: “Project cofinanced with EU funds from the European Fund for Regional Development […] We invest in the development of the Podkarpacki Voivodship” 7.3. The Historic Architecture Museum (Skansen) in Sanok recently received EU funds to build a model town center 8.1. Lesko center, 1993. In the mid1990s the bus stops were moved to a new station 8.2. Lesko center, 2011. New pavers and paint
5 6 6
68 78 100 122
200 200
Tables 4.1. Which do you consider your priority? 4.2. Which describes you best? Responses by residence and educational achievement