On June 5-6, 2023, Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska had the opportunity to participate in the SSEES Polish Migration Conference, organized by Anne White, Professor of Polish Studies at University College London. The conference focused on the integration policies and experiences of migrants living in Poland and Poles living abroad, in the context of recent political and social changes. The conference was held at the Masaryk Room of the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, but it was also streamed online for those who could not attend in person. Karolina was among the on-line participants.

She presented a paper titled “Coming Back Home? Narratives on the Recovery in Post-Displacement Poland”. In her paper, she explored local discourses about the “recovery”. In Poland, newly established within the changed borders post-1945, the simultaneous process of expulsion and resettlement took place. After the so-called Recovered Territories, i.e. the formerly German regions were incorporated into Poland, Germans were to be expelled while new settlers were coming from various regions, including the so-called Borderlands, now to be a part of the USSR. These processes were backed up by propaganda, rooted in the interwar vision of Poland shifted westwards and later adopted by the communists. Thus, the idea of “recovery” of inherently Polish lands after years of Germanization was forced upon the individual stories of the settlers.

Based on the archival research in Central Pomerania, she showed how migrants to the Recovered Territories negotiated with the centrally imposed notions, focusing not on the policies which were to incline them to the only possible ideological narration, but on their life stories and how they attempt at justifying their presence in the region. As well, she analyzed the tensions present in these narrations and show how they changed through time, comparing various written sources—memoirs left by the first settlers.

The conference was a great occasion to exchange ideas and insights with other scholars working on Polish migration issues. Karolina enjoyed listening to the presentations of her colleagues and engaging in lively discussions with them. Some of the topics that were covered included: the impact of Covid-19 on migration processes, the role of civil society organizations in supporting refugees and asylum seekers, the experiences of Polish return migrants and their children, and literary works on Polish migration.

If you are interested in learning more about the conference, you can find the book of abstracts here.