Accepted paper:

New patterns of local identity based on the enacted historic landscape: example of the Gdansk (Danzig) recollections literature


Barbara Bossak-Herbst (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

I will focus on the Gdansk landscape considered as an carrier of social values. Some parts of this city are a subject of vivid processes of symbolization, also on the ground of Gdansk literature which is abundant with descriptions of Gdansk seen through different persons’ eyes. Among those images some interesting regularities can be found.

Paper long abstract:

In my paper I will focus on Gdansk (Danzig) city considered as an carriers of non-material values. Gdansk being for a long time a subject of Polish-German conflicts has a very diverse landscape. Since 89' a part of it is a subject of vivid processes of symbolization. Among others, they occur on the discursive ground and entail phenomenon called the Gdansk literature which can be placed on the edge of recollections literature and fiction.

Stefan Chwin and Paweł Huelle are the authors known also out of Poland. An outstanding feature of their literature are abundant and reflective descriptions of Gdansk seen through different persons' eyes. Among those rediscovering images of the city some regularities can be found. Those new Gdansk portraits usually omit the old town (city center) rebuilt after World War II as well as all new districts and turn to post-German peripheral districts which over years have been marginalized. They also reveal paths of domestication and symbolic privatization of Gdansk which are different for the first and the second generations.

The main thesis of the paper is that the reason why the Gdansk landscape triggers such an exceptional interest and emotions results from tension arising from intersection of three pairs of categories mingled with different types of city landscapes. The Old Town is perceived as Polish but artificial and communist heritage, whereas districts like Oliwa and Wrzeszcz as German, authentic and liberal which makes both types of places not an obvious reference for contemporary local identity.

panel W096
Memory and material culture in post-conflict societies