CfP: Entangled Modernizations in the Polish and Ukrainian histories and cultures from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century - Panel for the 54th ASEEES convention

Jagoda Wierzejska's picture
Call for Papers
February 6, 2022
United States
Subject Fields: 
Eastern Europe History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Literature, Social History / Studies

Call for Papers

Entangled Modernizations in the Polish and Ukrainian histories and cultures from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century

Panel for the 54th ASEEES convention

Chicago, 10–13 November 2022


In the planned panel we would like to invite you to discuss the paradoxes and complex paths of various modernizations in the Polish and Ukrainian histories and cultures from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. Our attention is focused on Polish-Ukrainian entanglements in a broad understanding, from contact to cooperation and from delineation to conflicts, as they were reflected in cultural images of modernization projects: political, social, cultural, and individual ones. However, we are also interested in other modernization projects developed by national and ethnic minorities and presented in Polish- and Ukrainian-language discourses and public spheres, on the Polish and Ukrainian political, social and cultural background.

Modernizations are heterogeneous phenomena, full of ambivalence and marked by anxiety. Modernization processes promise development, power, joy, adventure and transformation, but at the same time they threaten to change or even destroy the familiar order. They entail fascinating accelerations, the euphoria of renewal, but also the vortex of disintegration, chaos and precarity. We propose to look at phenomena of modernization from spatial as well as temporal perspectives. In the former, modernization is sometimes reserved for centers or enclaves, or is all-encompassing. In the second, temporal perspective, modernization is stretched between the two poles of time that Enzo Traverso assigned to each transition period. Modernization projects start from a projection leaning towards the future, that is the “horizon of expectations” (Koselleck) towards which thoughts and actions are directed. They end up, in turn, as an element of the past, attracting a backward glance and often evoking a resigned, skeptical attitude, enduing from the field of past experience. Between the extremes of utopia and memory, as Traverso proposes to call them, modernization projects do not always follow a straight path. Sometimes they generate trends that are alternative towards the novum brought by progression, and sometimes backward trends, intended as a remedy to the uncertainty of the new.

We invite presentations examining various aspects of Polish and Ukrainian modernization projects in (1) the subjective field (progressions of social and moral, cultural, and identity-oriented character; projects of emancipation, collective and individual development, self-modernizations); (2) the subjective and objective field (new models of power, authority, and economic development, new forms of educational and historical policy, reflexivity of scholarly discourses); and (3) the institutional field (the role of various institutions in the interpretation and valuation of modernization processes). In doing so, we assume that there are parallels and points of contact between political, social, cultural, and artistic modernizations and also that all modernization projects are entangled in some way in various ideologies.

Our concept includes, but is not necessarily limited to the following thematic areas:

1. Cultural images, testimonies, and definitions of (1) modernization trends as mediums of what is new, unknown, alien, threatening, (2) their negations – as phenomena with common and distinct features in Polish and Ukrainian cultures.

2. Polish and Ukrainian reflections on factors animating and counteracting modernization movements; favorable circumstances and barriers; progressive and retarding processes.

3. Portraits of the main Polish and Ukrainian protagonists and animators of modernization, as well as others and strangers excluded from modernization projects; tropes, figures, phantasms, imaginary schemes used to present them.

4. Reflections on the specific character of Polish and Ukrainian modernization processes and the role which has been played in them by factors such as: violence, imitation, complexes, compensation, the sense of shame and pride, the need to differ, to be original or to defend that what is familiar.

5. Cultural (conscious) representations and (unintentional) disclosures of relations between modernization projects and radical/modernist ideology.


If you are interested in presenting a paper at this panel, please submit an abstract of no longer than 250 words by Friday, February 6, 2022. Please email the abstract to both organizers, and feel free to contact us with any question you might have. We will let you know about the composition of our panel until February 21.


Jagoda Wierzejska, University of Warsaw,

Martin Rohde, University of Halle-Wittenberg,

Contact Info: 

Jagoda Wierzejska

Institute of Polish Literature

Faculty of Polish Studies

University of Warsaw

Ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28

00-927 Warsaw, Poland

Contact Email: