“Fuck Off Polish Scum” – Eastern Europe in the Times of Populist Revolt

Jan Sowa

30/09/2019 19:00 - 01/10/2019 21:00

Mântuleasa 4, Bucharest, Romania

There was a time in the 90s when it seemed that all differences between the East and the West would have been blissfully overcome and, given enough time, Europe would unite into a homogenous social, cultural and economic entity. That was supposed to be our way of living through the end of history. Nowadays it is not only difficult to believe in that utopia, but even to understand how anyone could have come up with it in the first place. The division between the West and the East does not look like a Cold War residue nor like an invention of the Enlightenment as it was (in)famously claimed by Larry Wolff. Even a brief look at various maps of Europe, past and present – from contemporary air quality to expansion of the Roman Empire in 1 century AD to geography of serfdom in early modern times – reveals a deep cleavage separating the West and the East of the continent. Inferiority of the East is now experienced by those who emigrate to the West in a form of essentializing racism that puts Eastern Europeans in a bizarre and dangerous category of “off-white”.


Monday, 30 September

The lecture Mapping the Real. Eastern Europe as a Subject of Lack presented by Jan Sowa is going to explore the historical East-West division of the European continent.


Tuesday, 1 October
19:00 – 21:00
Please email info@oddweb.org to register.

The workshop entitled The East European Subaltern – Peripheral Inferiority and its Desublimation into the Populist Revolt (including a presentation of Janek Simon’s work Synthetic Poles) will focus on the experience of Eastern Europeans in the West and its role in the spread of anti-European and anti-immigrant attitudes in the EU. The workshop will also aim at developing an alternative materialist framework allowing for a progressive political articulation of the Eastern European malaise.

Below is a reading list, divided in 2 blocs: first 3 titles cover Poland / Central-Eastern Europe, whereas the next 3 titles are about identity politics, its pitfalls and a materialist alternative. Workshop participants are encouraged to read at least one text from each of 2 blocs; advisably the texts marked with “*” on the list.

Reading Material


Jan Sowa

Jan Sowa (born 1976) is a dialectical-materialist social theorist and researcher. He holds a PhD in sociology and a habilitation in cultural studies, he concentrates on researching modernity. Author and editor of a dozen of books, including  Joy forever – political economy of social creativity and, in 2019, Solidarity 2.0 or Democracy as a Form of Life. His research and teaching assignments took him to several academic and non-academic institutions in Poland and abroad, recently, University of São Paulo, Warsaw University and Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne. Jan Sowa was the curator of discursive programs and research of Biennale Warszawa and he currently is associate professor at the Department of Culture Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.