Is there more than meets the eye to Poland’s history of the transition?

At 18:00 CET on Thursday the 15th January 2015, Krytyka Polityczna presented the second event in their Poland for Beginners series (an English language series aiming to open up Poland to those unfamiliar with the country). This seminar, looking at the history of the Polish experience of the transition, took place in Krytyka Polityczna’s premises on the 2nd floor of 16 Foksal Street in Warsaw. Entry was free and open to all. A full recording of this debate is featured on this page and the short film, Places of Transformation, screened prior to the seminar, can be found below.

About the seminar:

This seminar, with Maciej Gdula, will take a closer look at the narratives surrounding recent Polish history. Officially, Polish history is often defined in reference to the events of 1989, when – partially – free elections started to take place once more. This date has come to be seen as the beginning of an ongoing process of change, gradually realigning Poland with the West and removing itself from its more recent Soviet history.

However, this convenient narrative often leaves out a lot of the background information, explaining how a series of events occurring throughout the 70s and 80s enabled 1989 to take place. This lecture will therefore cover an alternative history of the transition, starting in the 1970s and presenting key turning points, missing in the mainstream and official narrative, in order to provide a better understanding of the processes of socio-economic change leading to the establishment of the Third Polish Republic.

For those looking to find out more about the events of 1989 in Poland there are some related articles at the bottom of this page. Information on this event’s speaker, Maciej Gdula, can be found here and the short film, Places of Transformation, screened prior to the seminar, can be found here.

Places of Transformation:


Maciej Gdula – A doctor of sociology, journalist and member of the board of the Stanisław Brzozowski Association, Maciej Gdula works at the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Sociology. He specialises in social and political theory, combining these interests with regular involvement in public debates. In press columns he has repeatedly criticised the power of opinion polls, pointing to the many hidden assumptions they make, which do not really sit well with objective scientific research procedures. Academically, he has published texts on urban space and Polish political history and he has translated and co-edited several texts and books of Pierre Bourdieu. His sociology doctorate was on the phenomenon of expert discourses about love.

Event location:

Articles relating to the events of 1989 in Poland:

Readers may also be interested in the following articles, stemming from a Eurozine 20th anniversary focus point, on the events of 1989.

1) In Defence of Freedom – Reflecting upon 1989 – Adam Michnik (in German)

2) The Whereabouts of the Imprisoned Polish Memory Wojciech Przybylski (in English)

This debate takes place with the kind support of the Warsaw City Council and the European Cultural Foundation.

 ECFWarsaw Council