Awangarda i outsiderzy. Rozważania o polskiej historii mówionej pomiędzy historią publiczną a dyskusją akademicką
Avant-garde or outsiders? Reflections on Polish oral history between public history and academic discussion
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The main aim of this article is to analyse the essence and usefulness of beyond-academic usage of oral history as a particularly important part of public history. It discusses oral history as a part of public history as practised by some Polish socio-cultural institutions who concentrate on documenting people’s memories. The author focuses her attention of four centres documenting people’s accounts and their recordings collections. In her opinion, these main Polish centres are: the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” in Lublin, the History Meeting House and the KARTA Centre, the “Topografie” Association in Łódź and the “Remembrance and Future” Center in Wrocław. In order to be able to fully analyse separate social initiatives in Poland, one needs to, in the first place, pay attention to the uniqueness of oral history in the post-Communist countries. Having this context in mind, it is easier to present the way this technique has been adapted to the documentary arena in Poland. First and foremost, the author is most interested in what subjects are covered within the scope of programmes run by these institutions, and what picture of the past is promoted by these institutions in today’s public sphere. She also tackles issues connected with social archive studies conducted by the institutions she is talking about. It is her opinion, that by archiving the testimonies of witnesses to history, these institutions successfully fulfil their task: they do not make their findings and knowledge a secret, they do not treat it as something only a small group of chosen researchers on contemporary history can have access to. Instead, they make it available to anyone who is willing to learn history as presented in individual witnesses’ stories. Somewhere in the background remains the question of the avant-garde and outsiders division, as towards the end of the article the author wants to present as fully as possible the place of beyond-academic oral history in Poland as compared to oral history developed by academic circles.
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