Jakub Zarzycki. Identities, Discourse(s), Borderlands, and Their Images: Poles, Ukraine, and Ukrainians in Polish Visual Culture (1861-1914) through the Lens of Postcolonial Theory


07 April 2016

This presentation will interpret the image of Poles and Ukrainians and Polish-Ukrainian relations from 1861 to 1914 by using the tools of postcolonial theory, such as identity discourse, hybridity, mimicry, and hegemony of culture. Specific examples will demonstrate how these tools can be employed to (re)describe the presence of Ukrainians in Polish visual culture. The presentation will consist of three parts. The first will examine how Polish identity discourse was created in Polish literature and visual culture after the loss of Polish independence in the late eighteenth century. The second will discuss how that identity discourse was developed to maintain the existence of the Polish nation in the nineteenth century. The third part, concerned with Ukraine and Ukrainians, will focus on the notion of the Borderlands (Polish Kresy) and how it was created, developed in the visual arts, and linked with reality. The concluding reflections will explore how such research (based on postcolonial theory) could be used to rethink the presence of Ukrainians in the Polish iconosphere.

Jakub Zarzycki is an art historian, philologist, curator and critic of contemporary art. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Wrocław and at the Sapienza University of Rome. His PhD thesis, titled L'Italia immaginata: Italy and Italians in Polish Visual Culture,1861-1914, interprets the Italian impact on Polish visual culture of that period. In 2015-16, he is a doctoral research fellow at the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies, University of Alberta.