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Accepted Paper:

The good innocent nation facing the civilization of death: interpreting pro-life movement in contemporary Poland  
Kinga Sekerdej (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper long abstract:

The abortion debate in Poland has been one of the issues polarizing the society since the transformation in 1989. Prolife activists are often ridiculed as fanatic, mostly women beyond their reproductive age. Their actions are seen as blind obedience to religious or political authorities rather than an expression of their true concerns. Instead, I argue that their activities can be framed and interpreted in a time-related context.

Relating to the present, the engagement in prolife movement is, among other factors, an expression of agency within a marginalized group; marginalized because of age, gender and often illness. Far from being passive, they place prayer as the central and most reliable action in producing change. The future is addressed explicitly, not only in the widespread expression "children are our future", but also because what is perceived to be at stake is the well-being or even the existence of "the nation". These actions in turn, along with the employed rhetoric recreate a familiar world and invoke the past of socialism, reimagined as having a clear and easily identifiable enemy (then communism, now "the Civilization of Death") and clear, undiffused goals of overcoming and surviving these threats.

The presentation is based on ethnographic research among religiously motivated prolife activists in Krakow.

Panel W016
Envisioning the future, and hope
  Session 1