Knowledge Bridges Poland-Britain-Europe: Europeanism and Nationalism: Post-1989 Poland in Comparative Perspective

Oxford University

Project summary

One of the most important disputes in contemporary Poland may be broadly defined as that between the “Europeanists” – advocates of closer integration with the EU – and “nationalists” – defenders of a more isolated model of Polish Catholicism and patriotism. The emotional clash between them may be interpreted as a symptom of a wider dispute about the nature and limits of community. Whatever terms we use, this phenomenon, which is present in most, if not all, European countries, demands closer interdisciplinary examination. Academic frames of debate should help to examine sine ira et studio what Europeanism and nationalism, and related concepts such as regionalism, mean today in the context of Poland, UK and Europe. This project’s objectives are: (1) to explore analytical frameworks for understanding this crisis in political, sociological, and historical terms, as well as in international perspective; (2) to enable scholarly exchanges of these perspectives, and consequently (3) to prepare the ground for a deeper understanding of concrete processes and events. The project will gather a group of both established and younger scholars from Poland, Britain, and other European countries. Its key elements will be an international conference and a major public lecture. The project partners include: University of Warsaw, University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna, and the Kultura Liberalna Foundation.


Principal Investigator
Professor Timothy Garton Ash

Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution Stanford University. Much of his work has been concerned with the late modern and contemporary history of Central and Eastern Europe. He has written about the Communist regimes of that region, their experience with the secret police, the Revolutions of 1989 and the transformation of the former Eastern Bloc states into member states of the European Union. He has examined the role of Europe and the challenge of combining freedom and diversity, especially in relation to free speech. He is the author of ten books including The Polish Revolution: Solidarity. He has been studying and writing about Poland for nearly 40 years.

Dr Karolina Wigura

Assistant Professor at the Institute of Sociology, Warsaw University, and Head of the Political Section of Polish political and cultural weekly Kultura Liberalna. She studied at the University of Warsaw and Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich. She is Marshall Memorial Fellowship alumni, and former visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford

Dr Jarosław Kuisz

Assistant professor at Faculty of Law and Administration, Warsaw University, Chercheur étranger associé w Institut d’histoire du temps present at CNRS in Paris, and editor-in-chief of the Polish political and cultural weekly Kultura Liberalna. He has been a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago, University of Oxford and Columbia University. He is also a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow.

Dr Stefan Szwed

Dr Stefan Szwed is Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies at the Department of Politics and International Relations and Senior Common Room Member at St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.  Dr Szwed wrote his Oxford D.Phil. on Poland, Germany and state power in post-Cold War Europe (forthcoming as a Palgrave Macmillan monograph in mid-2018).  His expertise is in Poland’s foreign policy, relations with neighbours, EU eastern policy and transatlantic relations.  In addition, Dr Szwed has a research interest in democratic transitions and has nearly twenty years of experience working in the area of electoral support and observation, predominantly across Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Balkans with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (mostly as Political Analyst or Deputy Head of Mission), but also with other organisations, including the EU, NDI and the Carter Center.  He is a Research Associate of the Building Bridges project.