At 18:00 CET on Thursday the 25th May 2017, Krytyka Polityczna‘s Polish for Beginners series took a look at the media presence of migrants, expatriates and minorities in Poland.
The ethnic fibre of Polish cities is changing. There is an increasingly large number of nuclear families in which at least one of the parents is not an ethnic Pole and where languages other than Polish are spoken with the younger generation on a daily basis. Yet, the presence of many of these mixed families tends not to be widely acknowledged by locals and most of these groups remain underrepresented in depictions of the Polish mainstream.
This Poland for Beginners meeting therefore brings together editors of various diaspora/minority magazines in Poland to discuss how much of a voice they have been able to obtain in Polish society and to what extent they have succeeded in becoming part of Polish culture.
More and more informal groups, collectives and NGOs are trying to ensure that these new mottled Polish cultures receive more attention, however, most Polish institutions and opinion makers overlook or ignore newcomers and their perspectives, even when it is not necessarily in their interests to do so.
Thus, even when discussing issues which intrinsically involve new members of Polish society, i.e. migration, the ability of these groups to participate in building contemporary Polish culture often remains at a minimum, regardless of their contribution to Polish society in terms of taxation and the development of local economies.
Nonetheless, many newcomers insist that they have things to say and have founded their own media to make their voices heard. They argue that Polish culture can be stronger and more vigorous with their contribution and that Polish contemporary culture can also be produced in languages other than Polish. Often, they take the natural of becoming interpreters of Polish culture and thus help to form the country’s image abroad.
So, what is the overall feeling of those behind diaspora media in Poland, do these groups feel silenced or do they believe that their opinions are now being taken into consideration, for example, in the generation of new policies? Do they feel objectified as migrants – invited to speak up merely in order to tick the minority inclusion box – or do they feel that their professional or migrant expertise is of genuine interest to Poles?
Claudia Ciobanu – Co-Founder and Contributing Editor at Mamaliga de Varsovia, Claudia also works as a freelance journalist and her articles have appeared in Reuters, The Guardian and al-Jazeera.
Ted Bergdahl – Producer and Publisher of Polenpodden, a politically and religiously independent podcast covering Poland for Swedish audiences.
Wassem Abou Hasan – Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Polandinarabic.com. Wassem is also a freelance contributor to AJ, Huffington Post, D’Envoy Magazine and Middle East Reviews.
Vlad Guzman – Mexican born Co-Founder of the magazine Write the City, an online literary multilingual Warsaw-based publication focusing on otherness. He is the main editor of the magazine and a coordinator of creative writing workshops carried out in different places around Poland and Europe.
Teodor Ajder – Co-Founder and Contributing Editor at Mamaliga de Varsovia, Teoder is also the author of a number of books where the topic of migration is prevalent MO[PO]JARO (2010), The Men Mask is for a Japanese Girl (2008) and Vurda, The Heart’s Replacement (2003).
This discussion took place in Krytyka Polityczna’s edtiorial office at ul. Foksal 16, Warsaw.