The Politics of Memory Nationalism in Contemporary Poland




VanVleet, Faith

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Since 2017, Communist monuments in Poland have been disappearing from across the country. Behind their removal is the policy of the Polish Law and Justice administration carried out by the Institute of National Memory (IPN), a highly centralized organization with extensive power over memory politics. This thesis argues that Poland’s government engages in the politics of eternity, a term from scholar Timothy Snyder’s book, The Road to Unfreedom, by using memory policy to portray Poland as at the center of a cycle of victimhood. The IPN supports this narrative through the production of educational and popular culture media that problematically compare Poland’s experience of World War II to the Communist era. A case study of two monuments, the Monument to the Revolutionary Act in Rzeszów, Poland and the Monument to the Soldiers of the Soviet Army in Warsaw, Poland delves into the differences in adaptability surrounding controversial historical monuments. Questions raised by the Polish monument controversy have broader application to monument controversies worldwide.



Politics., History., Monuments., Memory., Poland., Communism.