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Accepted Paper:

Beyond Divisions: Re-thinking Sexuality, Reproduction and Catholicism in Poland  

Author:

Agnieszka Koscianska (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on my research experience in the field of gender, sexuality and religion, I ask: How can research that goes beyond political divisions between "progressive elites" and "populist Catholics" be designed and conducted?

Paper long abstract:

Poland is generally depicted as a predominantly Catholic country in which the Church governs people's souls and behaviors. Furthermore, Polish Catholicism is seen as inherently conservative and impervious to change. As this image influences both public debate and academic research, any discussion about the Catholic Church in regard to sexuality and reproduction in Poland is limited to vehement statements by the "progressive elites" ("the Church is solely responsible for the lack of sexual and reproduction rights") and "populist Catholics" ("feminists and LGBT activists pose a threat to the Polish nation").

In this roundtable intervention, I endeavor to deconstruct this image and search for other ways of approaching religion in Poland. Drawing on my research experience in the field of gender, sexuality and religion, including a new project entitled "Catholicising Reproduction, Reproducing Catholicism: Activist Practices and Intimate Negotiations in Poland, 1930-Present", I ask: How can research that goes beyond political divisions between "progressive elites" and "populist Catholics" and approaches the issues of Catholicism and sexuality in a more nuanced fashion be designed and conducted? Could anthropology - no longer an officially accredited academic discipline in Poland - contribute to crafting new ways of talking about sexuality and reproduction in the country? And, how can anthropologists engage politically to re-shape oversimplistic imaginaries and extend public debate beyond the entrenched political divisions?

Panel R003
Critical social sciences in Eastern and Central Europe: No future? [ENQA]