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Centre of Migration Research

Magdalena Lesińska. 2018.

The Polish Diaspora, the Polish Community. The Disputes Over Notions referring to the Groups of Poles Abroad


The Polish Migration Review MUZEUM EMIGRACJI W GDYNI Polski Przegląd Migracyjny 1/2018 (3)


The article analyses conceptual disputes over Polish communities abroad. It presents understanding of the variety of terms used to describe Poles abroad: ‘Polonia’, ‘Polish emigration’ or ‘Polish 'diaspora’. Special attention is devoted to the presence of the term ‘diaspora’ in academic literature, official documents and the political discourse in Poland. A few years ago, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MSZ) applied the term ‘Polish diaspora’ as a substitution of ‘Polonia and Poles abroad’ in the draft of a governmental programme. It provoked objections fromsome Polish organizations from abroad and triggered a debate in the Parliament. The text is based on the study of primary sources, such as proceedings of parliamentary debates, MSZ archive materials, statements of representatives of Polish organizations abroad as well as academic literature. The analysis showed that although the term ‘Polonia and Poles abroad’ is still commonly used, ‘Polish diaspora’ becomes more and more popular, especially among younger generation of academics. The most reluctant to use the word ‘diaspora’ in reference to Polish communities abroad are the leaders of Polish organizations abroad and politicians representing the right wing of the political spectrum. They base their opposition primarily on emotional arguments related to the understanding of the diaspora concept in a narrow, traditional sense, referring to scattered religious groups, while such understanding of the term has long ceased to apply.