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Project objective

dr Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska
For years: 2022–2027
Project number: 101041946
ERC Starting Grant

Ghosts are often presented as the spirits of the dead haunting the living. But what if we understood them as material remains, bringing to light overlooked past and enabling us to grasp the experience of the otherness? We propose such an approach in research on displacement, on territories previously inhabited by one culture but after a forced migration resettled by another one.

The displacement comprises expulsion and resettlement. While the former is well-researched, much of the latter remains understudied: especially the settlers’ experiences with things previous inhabitants had left behind. Things act as “ghosts” of previous culture and force settlers to interact with the “spectral” presence of the expellees. Hence, we will operationalize the category of “post-displacement” as a form of afterlife, based on archival records and fieldwork, in 3 regions in Slavic Central Europe where the traces of previous German cultures remained visible, regardless of the efforts to remove them. With hauntology as the proposed research framework and introduction of the category of recycling, we will establish a novel approach in research on the post-displacement regions. Hauntology, a spectral theory of being, shows how the present is pervaded by the past and enables us to engage with unresolved questions, becoming a tool to investigate unexplained phenomena. Recycling is a mechanism of reintroducing the things that were left by expellees into the life of the settlers. Our approach will bring fresh insights into everyday life in the post-displacement regions by providing a more nuanced and coherent understanding of forced migration processes and their continuous reinterpretations in different political and ideological regimes. In understanding what post-displacement things are and the attitude of people towards them, the project presents a showcase study of what we can learn about the emergence of new cultures from the experiences of Central Europe.


dr Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska
Principal Investigator in ERC StG
dr Angelika Zanki
Manager/research facilitator in ERC StG
mgr. Karina Hoření
Researcher in ERC StG
Michal Korhel, M. A.
Researcher in ERC StG
mgr Magdalena Bubík
PhD student/assistant


New blog post (in Czech)! Ptaní se na Hadvigu – zápisky z terénního deníku

As for other members of our team, research stays in the field are part of Karin’s work. We usually go to two countries for longer periods of time. For Karin, it is northern Bohemia and central Slovakia, two regions where the German past is still palpable. The field stays are intense, but at the same time often lonely. Ethnographers write down not only what they find out but also their feelings and experiences. To get you familiar with this particular experience, this time we present an excerpt from Karin’s diary from her second stay in central Slovakia. One Saturday in October, she went to Hadviga, originally a large village where mostly German Slovaks used to live, but which after the war became depopulated. Today, there are only a few summer cottages. Karin traveled with E., whom she had met in Hadviga already in the summer.

You can read blog post in Czech here.

Podcast (in Polish) – NCN Award

In this episode of NCN’s podcast, you can find out more about the most prestigious distinction for early-stage researchers working in Poland – NCN Award. Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska won the NCN Award for defining a new category of resettlement cultures in the research on post-displacement areas.

Karolina and Prof. Joanna Golińska-Pilarek, member of the NCN Council and NCN Award jury panel, talk to Anna Korzekwa-Józefowicz about this year’s awards and research conducted by Karolina.

Link to podcast you can find here.

Interview in Slovak – Michal Korhel about Spectral Recycling project

The town of Krickerhau does not exist on the map, yet it is in Slovakia. Krickerhau is the old German name of Handlová. The city was founded by German colonists and their descendants lived there for a long time. The end of World War II marked a radical change: most of the original German population was deported to Germany. But the traces left by previous inhabitants can still be visible there.

While doing research in Handlová our researcher, Michal Korhel, not only conducted interviews, but also gave one to a local radio station. Michal spoke about the Spectral Recycling project, its aims as well as its impact on the local society. Additionally, he presented his first findings from Handlová. You can listen to the whole interview in Slovak under the link here.

Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska is a winner of the NCN Award

We are proud to announce that our PI, Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska, is a winner of the NCN Award!

Ceremony was held in the Gallery of 19th-century Polish Art in the Sukiennice, part of the National Museum in Kraków. As always, the ceremony was hosted by Grażyna Torbicka.

The NCN Award is given to researchers under the age of 40, who are affiliated with Polish research institutions and boast a strong basic research and publication record in one of the following three panels: Arts, Humanities and Social sciences (HS), Physical Sciences and Engineering (ST), and Life Sciences (NZ). The main criteria for the selection process are scientific excellence and international recognition.

The jury consists of NCN Council Members and the NCN Director. This year, nearly 700 people were eligible to nominate candidates including, e.g., previous NCN Award winners, former NCN Council members and other outstanding researchers. An important condition is that they have not collaborated, taken part in any joint endeavours or published a paper together in the past 5 years. In addition, they should not have any familial or professional relationship and researchers cannot nominate their current or former PhD students. This year, the NCN received 53 nominations, including 44 candidates (some were nominated by more than one person). Nominees include 20 researchers in Physical Sciences and Engineering, 16 in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and 8 in Life Sciences.

In the weeks that follow, winners will deliver a series of lectures, we will let you know where you can find it. Now, more about award and this year’s winners you can read here.