Collective projects

  • 2009-2020

"Cultural History of the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition"

research team: Paweł Majewski (leader of the project),  Marcin Bogucki,  Ada Łobożewicz, Kornelia Sobczak

duration: 36 months (February 2017 – February 2020)

programme: OPUS, National Science Centre

The aim of the project is to write a cultural history of the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition. Although it is one of the most important Polish cultural events with a worldwide range, the existing literature on its history and the competition itself is limited merely to chronicles, personal accounts or a hybrid of both. There is a noticeable lack of analytical works on the subject, ones that would attempt to answer the following questions: motives to establish the competition, reasons why it gained reputation and sustained its position (artistic, educational and branding goals); artistic and non-artistic factors shaping the form of the competition (politics understood narrowly as activity of officials and people of power, and broadly – as all kind of regulations applied to the event); ideological discussions generated by the competition (universalism vs national particularism, artistic freedom vs artistic purism, expertsʼ judgment vs opinions of music lovers, gender politics).

The aim of the project is to give a detailed historical and theoretical analysis of each edition of the competition regarding the aforementioned problems. Its aim is not only the theoretical reflection on the subject, but also to correct some factual mistakes that occasionally occur in existing sources – including the scholarly.


“Traces of the Holocaust in the Polish Cultural Imaginary”

research team: Justyna Kowalska-Leder (leader of the project), Jan Borowicz, Paweł Dobrosielski, Olga Kaczmarek, Iwona Kurz, Zofia Mioduszewska, Agnieszka Pajączkowska, Kornelia Sobczak, Karolina Sulej, Joanna Woźnicka, Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych, Karolina Wróbel-Bardzik (secretary of the project), Małgorzata Szpakowska,  (all IKP UW), Joanna Krakowska (Institute of the Arts, Polish Academy of Sciences)

duration: 72 months (December 2012 – December 2018)

programme: National Program for the Development of the Humanities

The project researched visual, performative and discoursive signs of the Holocaust that can be traced within Polish culture. One of the main subjects of study were Polish-Jewish relations during the Second World War and the history of their representation. The role of the Holocaust in the development of the Polish collective memory was analyzed and interpreted through an inter-medial perspective, which utilized a diverse body of sources: personal documents, fiction, theatre, film, photography and other means of commemorating and representing the Holocaust. The project followed traces of the Holocaust engraved into the Polish collective imaginary, constructing a map of varied problems – among others the visibility of genocide, the entanglement of the Polish in the Holocaust, the martyrologic competition between victims, the ‘indifference’ of the by-standers, the interception of Jewish property. In the essays the authors pose questions about the limitations of Holocaust representation and point to a number of commemorative dilemmas pertaining to ethics, education and ‘contamination’ of Polish culture.

The results of the project have been published, among others, in the following volumes: “Traces of the Holocaust in the Polish Cultural Imaginary”, ed. Paweł Dobrosielski, Justyna Kowalska-Leder, Iwona Kurz, Małgorzata Szpakowska, Political Critique Publishing House, Warsaw 2017; Agata Chałupnik, “Auschwitz in the writings of Marian Pankowski”, University of Warsaw Publishing House, Warsaw 2017, Paweł Dobrosielski, “Disputes over Gross. Polish problems with the memory of the Jews”, Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences Publishing House, Warsaw 2017; Justyna Kowalska-Leder, “Sphere of ambivalence in the Polish and Jewish testimonies”, Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences Publishing House, Warsaw 2019.


“Performances of Memory: Testimonial, Recostructive and Counterfactual Strategies in Literature and Performative Arts of the 20th and 21st Centuries”

research team: Magdalena Marszałek (University of Potsdam; leader of the project on German side), Małgorzata Sugiera (Jagiellonian University; leader of the project on Polish side), dr Mateusz Borowski (Jagiellonian University), Dorota Sajewska (IKP UW), Dorota Sosnowska (IKP UW)

duration: 36 months (January 2016 – December 2018)

programme: BEETHOVEN, National Science Centre – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The aim of the Polish-German research project is a critical discussion and re-conceptualisation of theories of literary and artistic testimonial, reconstructive and counterfactual practices which refer back to the formative historical experiences of the 20thcentury. Its main subject is Polish literature and arts in the European comparative perspective. The project is situated within the interdisciplinary field of performance and memory studies whose methodology draws from analytic tools of literary theories and practices, as well as media and performative arts in order to put into question traditional theoretical dichotomies. The starting point is a search for a new definition of relationships between literature and other arts and historical experiences. This goal has political, epistemological and aesthetic aspects and it is much needed because of the recent growth of popularity of both documentary and mockdocumentary genres as well as of counterfactual narratives. In the project dr Dorota Sajewska and dr Dorota Sosnowska will be responsible for the part concerning the reconstructive strategies, wich will be presented on the historic example of the Polish labor movement in 20th century.


“Masks in the Culture of Contemporary Europe: Ritual – Carnival – Theatre – Play – Art”

research team: Wojciech Dudzik (leader of the project), Agata Łuksza, Amudena Rutkowska, Dorota Sosnowska

duration: 36 months (October 2015 – October 2018)

programme: OPUS, National Science Centre

The purpose of the research is to identify and interpret the types and functions of a mask in contemporary Polish and European culture. It is time to question the well-established belief that the mask, understood as a material object, has been degraded and marginalized in modern culture. The research focuses on: determining the characteristics of a contemporary mask; describing methods of creating and using masks; studying contemporary functions of masks, their performative abilities and meanings in diverse areas of culture. The aim is to show the contemporary „ways of the masks” by reconstructing historical context of selected masks and analyzing examples of their presence in modern Polish and European culture. The project methodology refers to anthropology of performance and performance studies in order to underline interactive and performative dimensions of masks (mask as a medium of culture, mask as a performative object.)


"Topo-Graphies. City, Map, Literature" -

research team: Marta Bukowiecka, Łukasz Bukowiecki, Marcin Gołąb, Agnieszka Karpowicz (leader of the project), Piotr Kubkowski, Mikołaj Madurowicz, Konrad Niciński, Weronika Parfianowicz, Włodzimierz Pessel, Igor Piotrowski,  Elżbieta Rybicka

duration: 36 months (June 2014 – June 2017)

programme: National Program for the Development of the Humanities

The project represents an example urban research conducted employing both historical (history of 20thcentury culture) and anthropological (anthropology of everyday life, anthropology of urban culture, anthropology of literature) perspectives. Its goal is to create literary maps of the city of four writers associated with Warsaw’s urban space: Miron Białoszewski, Leopold Tyrmand, Marek Hłasko, and Tadeusz Konwicki. This will allow to present the transformation of the material tissue of Warsaw and its urbanistic structure, examined here through the lens of an individualised, artistic, subjective urban experience and its relationship with the spatial poetics of literary works (geopoetics). The conceptualised and practically applied method of topographic reading of the work and of topographic analysis of the writer's biography is intended to outline the corresponding urban cultural landscape (in the context of humanistic geography, as well as the new geography of culture and geobiography). The authors are also interested in urban practices contemporary to the researched artists (places of memory, the urban reception of the writer's work and legend, following of artistic and socio-cultural animation activities, as well as of cultural events organised in connection with the author’s rootedness in the city).


"Visual culture in Poland: concepts, languages, meta-images" -

research team: Iwona Kurz (leader of the project), Paulina Kwiatkowska, Magda Szcześniak, Łukasz Zaremba

duration: 36 months (February 2013 - February 2016)

programme: OPUS, National Science Centre

Understanding the contemporary potential of speaking and writing about visuality must be based on the recognition of their genealogy, history and continuous mediation between different areas and fields of research and modes of representation, and also on the removal of existing categories, texts and perspectives. Thus, the primary effect of the project was the recognition of the resources and potential of Polish reflection on the vision, seeing and its practices – in the framework of the second half of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century.  The team also attempted to overwork Polish visuality in terms of contemporary culture needs and shaping the language of the discipline of visual culture research. On the one hand, the project went back to the sources of Polish modernity (as the moment of the emergence of media, redefining the view and birth of scientific methods of capturing vision and visuality), according to the "archeological" approach (Zieliński, Crary, Manovich), in which historical-cultural diagnoses have to lead to a better understanding of the present day . On the other hand, the context of contemporary view, vernacular and artistic practices was important; visual arts were treated here as a laboratory of reflection in the field.


Anthropology of the Word: Media, Genres, Practices”

research team: prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Godlewski, dr hab. Agnieszka Karpowicz, dr Marcin Niemojewski, dr Olga Kaczmarek, dr Justyna Kowalska-Leder, dr Marta Rakoczy, dr hab. Paweł Rodak, dr Agata Sikora, dr Matylda Szewczyk.

duration: 36 months (2009-2012)

programme: National Program for the Development of the Humanities

The project was inspired by Mikhail Bakhtin's thought and his approach to linguistic expression and has led to the development of a concept allowing to define, analyse and interpret Polish contemporary culture, in relation to media historical changes, from the point of view of its proper forms of verbal creation and related language practices, as well as to the development of the concept of the anthropology of literature related to them.

The results of the project are:

textbook: “Antropologia twórczości słownej. Zagadnienia i wybór tekstów”, introduction Agnieszka Karpowicz, eds. Agnieszka Karpowicz, Katarzyna Hagmajer-Kwiatek, Justyna Kowalska-Leder, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Warszawa 2012,

volumes awarded with the Rector's Award for 2014: „Od aforyzmu do zinu. Gatunki twórczości słownej”, introduction Agnieszka Karpowicz, eds. Grzegorz Godlewski, Agnieszka Karpowicz, Marta Rakoczy, Paweł Rodak, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Warszawa 2014; „Almanach antropologiczny IV. Twórczość słowna/Literatura. Performance, tekst, hipertekst”, eds. Grzegorz Godlewski, Agnieszka Karpowicz, Marta Rakoczy, Paweł Rodak, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Warszawa 2014,

article: Agnieszka Karpowicz, Reincarnationsof theword: media, genres, practices, Olga Kaczmarek, in: On-line/Off-line – Between Text and Experience. Writing as a Lifestyle, eds.Peter Gärdenfors, William Powers, Jarosław Płuciennik, Michał Wróblewski, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Łódź, Kraków 2015, s. 151-165.

Institute of Polish Culture
Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
00-927 Warszawa
tel.+48 22 552 03 24
22 552 26 04

University of Warsaw
ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
00-927 Warszawa
tel. +48 22 552 00 00
NIP 525-001-12-66

Faculty of Polish Studies

Project and realisation: