CfP: War and Diversity Beyond the Battlefield: Cultural Encounters in the Polish Lands 1914–1923 (4th International Polish Historians Conference)

Keely Stauter-Halsted's picture

Call for Papers

War and Diversity Beyond the Battlefield: Cultural Encounters in the Polish Lands 1914–1923

Panel for the 4th International Congress of Polish History

Kraków, 19–22 October 2022

Every five years since 2007, Kraków has hosted the International Congress of Polish History. Each of these remarkable events has brought together hundreds of scholars from all over the world to share their interest in Poland’s history, culture, and language. From its beginnings, the main aim of the Congress has been to provide a forum for developing dialogue, exchanging experiences and inspiration, and popularizing research in Polish history. We have now begun planning for the continuation of this project, and we warmly invite you to be part of this, the Fourth International Congress of Polish History. In spite of the uncertainty and unpredictability that the pandemic has brought, we are going ahead with the organization of the Congress, firm in the belief that it will be possible for us all to meet safely in Kraków in October 2022. The theme of the Congress will be ‘Cultural Encounters.’ We set out to look at the history of the Polish lands through the lens of mutual relations and interaction and of the multiple cultural currents and models that have circulated in the country for centuries. Ideas, customs, identities and languages, have come together as if in a crucible, a laboratory, or a transhipment port. Cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious, economic, demographic, and social diversity has always been a dominant note in Poland’s past, and has left lasting traces in its cultural legacy and collective identity. As we invite our fellow scholars with research interests in Poland to Kraków, we hope to explore the dynamics, scale, and complexity of these interactions, probe the main channels of transmission and retransmission, and consider the outcomes for Poland of these cultural encounters. We have pledged to adopt the broadest possible definition of culture, to take account of both its elevated and popular registers.

                  As a part of the 4th Congress, we propose a panel entitled: “War and Diversity Beyond the Battlefield: Cultural Encounters in the Polish Lands 1914–1923.” Within this framework, we seek to reconsider the Polish territories as a meeting point of cultures and nations during the First World War and the early post-war period. This extended historical moment saw the last gasp of land empires that died on the battlefield and the birth of a multi-cultural, post-imperial Polish state from the remnants of fallen states. The process of imperial collapse and the construction of new nation states was accompanied by multiple cultural clashes in a context of lingering influences from pre-war times. We invite presentations examining various aspects of these cultural encounters including:

  • The experience of nonPolish members of imperial armies stationed in Galicia or Congress-Poland (e.g., Austrians, Hungarians, Slovenes, Slovaks, Czechs, Romanians, Germans, Russians) and their interactions with local populations;


  • Impressions of noncombatants during World War I and the border conflicts that followed it, including the experiences and observations of war reporters, politicians, diplomatic staff, intellectuals, artists etc.;


  • Postwar realities, including the observations of staff and representatives (of non-Polish background) from international foreign missions after 1918 in the newly-created Second Republic of Poland;


  • Postwar transitions such as shifts in a sense of belonging after the rise of new states, changes in self-identification on cultural grounds before and after 1918;


  • People on the move: wartime migrations (refugees, exiles, internees, repatriates) and cultural encounters;


  • The remnants and cultural memory of empires and war, including the repurposing of physical remains such as fortresses, internment and POW camps, sites of memory such as monuments and cemeteries, artistic renderings of memory, or residual administrative practices carrying over from imperial rule and wartime, interrogating where we find continuity and where we see rupture after 1918;


  • Cultural encounters in the early years of newly created Poland after 1918, dominated by Poles but inhabited by other nations (Ukrainians, Jews, Lithuanians, Belarussians and Germans), whose sense of belonging was different (especially those arising as a consequence of long-lasting conflicts).


Any other potential contributions linking cultural encounters and Polish territory in WW1 are warmly welcome.

The 4th Congress is scheduled for October 19–22, 2022 and will be held in Kraków. The languages of the Congress will be English and Polish. For our panel “War and Diversity” we invite up to 8 speakers and discussants, all contributions should be approximately 20 minutes in length. Please submit proposals of approximately 250 words to Keely Stauter-Halsted ( and Kamil Ruszała ( by August 1, 2021. The complete roster of speakers will be announced by the end of Summer 2021. Congress organisers are seeking funds for lodging in Kraków and to cover travel expenses (especially for non-European scholars). Further details will be provided later.

Panel moderators plan to follow-up after the Congress and collect contributions to publish in a journal as a special issue.