Accepted Paper:

Strangers in the ancestral homeland: acculturation challenges to Polish repatriates from Kazakhstan, between imagination and reality  


Katarzyna Kość-Ryżko (Institute of Archeology and Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

Polish repatriates from Kazakhstan arrived to Poland after 1990 are very interesting research group. They proof that the identification with culture and natives is complicated and ambiguous. Settlement reality is often disappointing and lack of compatriots’ acceptance causes acculturation problems.

Paper long abstract:

Repatriation understood as a return to the country of ancestors did not always look like in images prior to departure. The realities often differ from the dreams and after arrival it turns out that everything is different, unknown - foreign. The reality is disappointing but the lack of alternatives begins the difficult process of cultural adaptation - not always successful.

In 2000-2008 I conducted research focused on the fate of Poles returning from Kazakhstan to the homeland of their ancestors, who as a result of forced deportation to the USSR in the years 1936-1946 were for many years abroad. Their situation was extremely complex and it was only after 1990 repatriation became possible. Meanwhile, after arrival to Poland they had to face a numerous of challenges, including the public debate about their identity and questioning Polish self-identification. It turned out that the "Polishness" of repatriates does not fit the romantic vision shared by part of their compatriots for whom they were too Soviet, in analogy as they were too Polish in the previous place of settlement. "Uprootedness" experienced by the descendants of Poles deported from the country for which they missed for many years was much more severe than they felt in Kazakhstan. Observation and analysis of acculturation strategies undertaken by repatriates became the basis of ethnopsychological study in which I discuss issues related to the impact of specific imaginations and expectations preceding decision of migration (in this case repatriation) on their later life satisfaction, cultural adaptation and relationships with compatriots.

Panel Mig008
Re-imagining home: belonging and liminality in migrants' everyday practices