Schengen and the Rosary: Postcolonical Syndrome and Polish National Habitus

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:10
Oral Presentation
Marta BUCHOLC, Kate Hamburger Kolleg "Recht als Kultur", Germany, WFiS University of Warsaw, Poland
In September 1917, a few Catholic NGO-s based in Poland supported by the Polish Episcopate have announced a plan to organize a chain of rosary prayer on Polish borders. Along all the borderlines over a million people divided into 3.5 thousand prayer units were to gather under guidance of thousands of priests. The action, scheduled for October 7, 2017, was to renew the national consciousness, strengthen the faith and reinforce the sense of commitment to national history. I take a brief analysis of this case as a starting point for my discussion of Polish national habitus in Eliasian terms. The need to recreate national borders (to all practical purposes mostly abolished by Schengen Treaty) symbolically and by a Catholic prayer is an evidence of a strong sense of threat. This sense of threat has been a foundation of Polish national habitus as a result of domestic and international developments taking place since the second half of 18th century at the latest and contributed to the emergence and consolidation of what I call “postcolonial syndrome”. Those who would be praying for the imminent threat to Poland to be reversed by defending its borders with their rosaries are proponents of a variant of national identity which has become dominant in public discourse and in state practice after the elections of 2015. This group identity is based on twofold sense of danger: external and internal. I will map these dangers as components of a single syndrome, made possible by Poland’s preserving a unique and undeniably national experience of both a colonizer and the colonized in its cultural memory.