Author:Magdalena Buchczyk (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores the complexities of making and remaking of an industrial region in Poland. The city of Katowice and its surroundings serve to investigate difficult negotiations of socialist pasts and metropolitan futures, revealing the often blurred boundaries between transition and continuity.
Paper long abstract:
Built on "black gold", the industrial region of Silesia was a key to the post-war construction of Poland. For decades it served as an exemplar of socialist modernity and prosperity of the workers. Following the transitional economic 'shock therapy', the future outlook was bleak. During the 1990s, the region has undergone profound changes - several mines were closed down and the path to post-socialist prosperity carried profound social costs. The accelerated post-industrial future-making was a fundamental rupture not only in terms of Silesian everyday lives but also for the "black gold" ethos that underpinned the local constructions of identity. More recently, Silesia has accelerated once again through infrastructural developments, from regenerating the representational urban spaces to building of a large-scale motorway network linking the region to the new routes connecting the East and the West. Through these metropolitan developments, often supported by the European Union funds, the region was meant to overcome the past, raise from the ashes and be launched into the service economy and the European future.This paper focuses on some of the contradictions embedded in the relationships between the past and the future in today's Katowice and its surroundings. I argue that the question of 'what next' in Silesia is closely interlinked with the narratives and the material cultures of the past. By bringing together the fears and hopes embedded in materiality and everyday life, I will explore the tapestry of history and future to reassess the local dynamics of change and the 'post-socialist' nature of the region
Postsocialism and anthropology: theoretical legacies and European futures