Nina Seiler: Negated Commonity: The Suffocation of Communitarian Ideas in Polish Political and Artistic Discourse Around 1968

In this project, I explore the notion of commonality in Polish cultural and artistic discourse around the year 1968. This year marks a turning point within socialist discourse in Poland: Where young people invested into a more liberal, egalitarian socialism in the late 1960s, the official narrative turned towards a national(ist) closing by enforcing biopolitical and ideological exclusions. The shift from trying to implement what can be called a “commonist ethics” (Buck-Morss 2013) towards subordination under a normative “imagined community” (Anderson 1983) was initiated by outbursts of physical and psychological violence from party officials, as well as from society as a whole. I would like to explore this rift between Polish society and the newly-drawn and -reinforced ethnic, social, and ideological borders at the time of the ‘68 revolts and their immediate aftermath. I will look at the intertwining of communitarian and immunitarian (Esposito 2004a, 2004b) mechanisms in and through cultural discourses, bodily performances and artistic production, both as a mediation and exploration of the political. The material includes documents such as political manifestos and leaflets, protest songs, diaries, photographs or drawings; but I will focus mainly on artistic reflection in theatre, cinema, and literature.

Nina Seiler completed her PhD in Slavic Literature at the University of Zurich in 2017. With her PhD thesis on feminist criticism in 1990’s Polish Studies, she was a Fellow of the Gender Studies doctoral programme at UZH from 2012 to 2017. She was also an associate researcher at the Institute for Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBL PAN). She published her thesis as a book titled Privatisierte Weiblichkeit (Privatised femininity), in 2018. After finishing her dissertation, Nina Seiler worked during 2017-2018 in several projects concerned with culture, gender issues and Slavic studies, e.g. in exhibitions and in the Swiss Eastern European Library. Starting from November 2018, Nina Seiler has been a postdoctoral researcher in the SNSF project “Crisis and Communitas: Performative Concepts of Commonality in the Polish Culture since the Beginning of the 20th Century”, supervised by Prof. Dr. Dorota Sajewska, Assistant Professor of Interart Studies (Eastern Europe) at the Slavic Seminar UZH. Her research interests include feminist and gender studies, intersectional approaches, knowledge production and history of knowledge, the transfer of ideas, postcolonial studies, discourses in and about the People‘s Republic of Poland and Science Fiction.


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