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2017 | 10, Antropologia - folklor - historia | 71–85

Article title

Być „niepowołanym odbiorcą”…

Title variants

To Be ‘an Unappointed Recipient’…

Languages of publication



The scientific interests of Piotr Kowalski, a literary scholar, folklorist, and cultural researcher, include the phenomena and specific events that impose on the researcher the status of an "unintended" or at least "non-specific" recipient. The multi-layered, erudite treatise Prośba do Pana Boga. Rzecz o gestach wotywnych (A Plea to God: Topics in Votive Gestures) originates from a discreet observation by the scholar of a specific ritual, where the faithful write in the book laid out by the altar of Our Lady of Opole their pleas and intentions of a private, often intimate nature. An attempt made by the author to outline the origin of this phenomenon, its cultural functions, and historical and contemporary contexts, illustrates a certain type of scientific reasoning, whose logic leads from observation of "strangeness" or "marginality" of the analysed event or behaviour (along with the accompanying texts) to its placement in the mainstream of culture. This is done by disclosing certain, usually secret, patterns and behaviours related to universal human needs, used in single communication acts. Consequently, cognitive distance accompanying all scientific activities, including the field of cultural studies, may become significantly reduced as a result of the use of explanatory procedures and location of the examined phenomena on the timeline, but it is never completely eliminated. Kowalski repeatedly emphasises that a scientist always exists "next to" the subject of research, often in the role of an "unintended recipient". It seems important that this distance is closely connected with a typically humanistic interest in the rich and diverse human world of meanings and values, in which nothing is obvious.


  • Uniwersytet Wrocławski


Document Type

Publication order reference


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