Internet jako pole tworzenia powiązań transnarodowych polskich misjonarzy na Białorusi
The Internet as a field of transnational networking of Polish missionaries in Belarus
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The concept of transnationalism created by Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch and Cristina Szanton-Blanc seems to be useful to present the importance of the Internet for Polish missionaries in Belarus. They define transnationality as multiple relationships which are established by immigrants with the country of origin and the host country. This is particularly evident on the example of new media. Four types of transnational relations can be distinguished: political, economic, social and cultural ones. Currently in Belarus there is a population of nearly 1.5 million Catholics, of which over 60% is considered to be Polish. Some of them are the so-called church Poles. This creates a specific cultural situation of Catholics, which is reflected even in the materials posted on the Internet. Catholicism is linked with Poland, especially with Polish language. Bilingual and transnational activity of the church is visible on the website. However, not all information appears in the two languages. Observing the presence of Polish missionaries on the Internet, we can distinguish three levels: informational, communication and economic. For that reason they use different tools: portals, blogs, pages and instant messaging services, establishing contact with parishioners and friends in the host country and abroad. They are both senders and recipients. Thanks to new media it is possible to reconcile their belonging to different countries, so it can be said that priests have a hybrid identity, in this case Polish and Belarusian. Thanks to websites priests can inform about current events, investments, hours of services, send Christmas wishes or call for support. On the level of communication the internet is undoubtedly an important medium supporting missionaries’ contacts, but not the most important one. Still a telephone prevails as the most reliable and quite direct solution - unfortunately a payable one. The Internet is also used as a tool for raising funds for the church. Priests on the websites inform readers about their activities and ask for donations. This results in financial dependence of the church in the East. Currently both Poles and Belarusians need a visa to cross the Polish-Belarusian border. This means that a state permit is required to take actions in those two nations. In this situation the internet is an effective medium of particular importance as it surpasses state and economic restrictions.
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