Scientific Ideals and Political Engagement: Polish Ethnology and the ‘Ethnic Question’ Between the Wars
Languages of publication
The article brings to light the relationship between politics and social sciences in interwar Poland in its local and transnational dimensions. It explores the beginnings of expertise in ethnology and the evolution of the discipline’s tools and methods as closely linked to the political goals of the interwar Polish state, and the post-coup Sanacja [Sanation] regime in particular. Ethnologists carried out fieldwork focused on multiethnic territories, such as Eastern Galicia, which were subjected to international territorial disputes. The collaboration with politicians and the administration – developed mostly in the framework of research institutes – was a source of inspiration and, at the same time, stiff competition between scientific schools. To illustrate some consequences of this collaboration, the article traces an argument over scientific approaches to the ‘ethnic question’ which involved ethnologists and empirical sociologists, and the connection of this argument to the objectivity principle in science. These different approaches reflect international theoretical and epistemological divisions at the time as much as they show the direct and indirect exchange of ideas within the European scholarship.
Publication order reference