Accepted Paper:

Transition as estrangement: alternative history of political change in Poland lived by a former Security Officer   

Author:

Anna Witeska-Młynarczyk (Uniwersytet Warszawski)

Paper long abstract:

The 1989 change in Poland involved restructuring of state institutions. The communist Security Apparatus was transformed into the State Protection Office run by a former editor of a Catholic weekly. The 'vetting' process was commenced and many communist functionaries were dismissed from the institution. The middle-rank officers recall this episode as an unexpected change evoking a sense of disorientation.

This paper expounds on a life story of one of the fired officers whose main job was planting bugs. His narrative about the transition constitutes an example of a counter-memory emergent in opposition to the legitimated by the state acts of symbolic exclusion of the communist functionaries from the new polity. The officer experienced the transition as a process of social alienation and a source of distress.

Narrating his life story to an ethnographer, he tried to maintain integrity of his self-image irritated by discrepant frameworks of communism and democracy.

Panel W113
Postsocialist Eastern Europe: social transformations and crises in personal biographies