New society on the Polish Western Territories. Personal journals of settlers from an autobiographical perspective


The main aim of the research project is to investigate, represent and explain the ways in which the settlers and inhabitants of the Polish Western Territories accounted for the migration and settlement processes, which were taking place in those territories in the years 1945 – 1970. The project assumes the need to explain the differences in their interpretation of those processes in different periods (when they were occurring, in that immediately following decades, from the point of view of the present, as well as from the perspective of later biographical trajectories). Specifically, in the research project include: describing the process in which the autobiographical accounts originated within the context of personal-journal contests as well as accounting for the relationship between their writing and other social processes; popularizing the knowledge about the Polish tradition over the biographical research method; adding to the state of knowledge about the social processes occurring in the Western Territories after the 1945. The following research hypotheses have been proposed: (H1) migration and settlement processors on the Western Territories contributed to the emergence of new local communities – communities embedded in the place of settlement; (H2) local identities of the inhabitants of Western Territories comprise element specific and distinctive with respect to the Polish society; (H3) migration and settlement process is in the western territories contributed to the establishment of specific local identities: (h1) exhibiting high level of openness to change, (h2) high readiness to interact with other inhabitants, (h3) retaining some elements of the regions of origin (customs, traditions, social norms).

The project aims are going to be obtained within a research persons comprising three principal stages. Stage one assumes an analysis of 1141 autobiographical relatives composed by settlers and subsequent inhabitants of the Western Territories. These originated within the context of three personal-journal contests organized by the Institute for Western Affairs in the years 1956, 1966, 1970. Due to ideological (censorship) as well as technical (volume) limitations these materials have hitherto been largely inaccessible and unused, and it has only been and after a recent digitization of the archive that a comprehensive computer assisted analysis begin possible. The existing material is going to be investigated within the framework of qualitative sociology, aided by aspects of quantitated analysis. In stage two, in-depth interviews have been planned with the journal authors (so far as that remains possible) and their families as well as the key experts involved in maintaining local social memory. This is going to allow for access to the contemporary state of memory and attitudes concerning their migration and settlement processes. A selection of N=20 units of analysis has than planned within which from 3 to 5 interviews are going to be conducted. Stage three is going to involve a comparative analysis of the results coming from the two previous stages.



2016 - 2019

Source of funding

National Science Center as a part of the OPUS funding scheme