PhD projects

Polish prisoners of war in the First World War between propaganda and national self-assertion
Doctoral project, MLU Halle
Laura Krebs, M.A.

In her doctoral project, Laura Krebs focuses on the experience of war captivity of Polish soldiers in the years 1914 to 1918, mainly in the German Empire.

Prisoner of war was a mass phenomenon during the First World War. Due to the high numbers of prisoners, the warring states set up a distinct prisoner-of-war camp system within a very short time. The prisoners of Polish nationality from the armies of Poland's three partitioning powers were of great political interest to almost all the belligerent states. The Polish prisoners of war studied here were German prisoners of war in the service of the Imperial Russian Army and were officially registered as "Russians". However, the nationalities and Poland policy of the empire meant that some of them, who saw themselves as Poles and/or were perceived as such by the German side, were housed in so-called "Polish camps". In these special POW camps, the Poles were exposed to nationalist propaganda and attempts to instrumentalise them for German war aims. At the same time, they tried out national self-organisation there, which was to benefit the future Polish state after the desired re-establishment. The planned doctoral thesis will focus on the captivity of Polish soldiers in the First World War against the double background of the specific experience of captivity and the special war experience of Poland as a divided nation.


Defining "Unofficial Medicine" in the Russian Empire: Imperial and Regional Perspectives (mid-18th-early 19th centuries)
Promotionsprojekt, MLU Halle
Kateryna Pasichnyk, M.A.

My dissertation deals with the question of how people in the 18th-century Russian empire defined proper medical practice. Historiography has long concluded that state-supported medicine was only part of the more comprehensive medical pluralism of the early modern period, despite state support and sponsorship and contrary to the laws that provided normative definitions of legally recognized medical practice. The Russian empire was no exception. Through a systematic analysis of denunciations and investigations of "unlicensed healing" in Saint Petersburg and the Podolian province, this project places the normative ideal of what was "proper medical treatment" -- practice recognized by the Medical College -- into a wider range of alternative views of proper medical practice. I propose to investigate the definition of good medical practice as a complex process involving various actors, medical and civil administration, state-appointed and private physicians, and laymen as patients and clients involving the interplay of legal and social norms. Taking imperial and regional perspectives allows us to situate the Podolian lands within the larger imperial medical world and reflect upon the broader issues, like the introduction of the new imperial normativity in former Polish-Lithuanian lands, the formation of legitimacy beliefs amid new subjects, and the dynamics between imperial and local medical cultures.


Architecture and Rule. State conception and military presence in the Habsburg province of Galicia-Lodomeria, 1849-1859.
PhD project, MLU Halle
Frank Rochow, M.A.

The revolution of 1848/49 posed an existential threat to the Habsburg monarchy. Only with the help of the military could the various territories be kept in the political federation under the crown of the House of Habsburg. As a reaction, from 1848 onwards, under the young Emperor Franz Joseph I, the modernisation course embarked upon shortly before, which was intended to turn this "composite state" into a modern state based on the Western European model, was continued under different auspices. Within this forced state-building process, the military functioned as a bracket that could only guarantee the cohesion and territorial integrity of the monarchy. The material expression of this function was the implementation of an ambitious project to create a monarchy-wide fortification system.

Through a close examination of the realisation of the sub-projects in Krakow (today: Kraków, Poland) and Lviv (today: L'viv, Ukraine), the role of the military vis-à-vis other actors, both state and non-state, is elaborated. Through the analysis of both internal administrative and external negotiation processes, which encompasses all phases of construction planning and implementation, general mechanisms of rule are brought out just as clearly as the limits of the "neo-absolutist" behaviour of the ruling elite. The result is a multifaceted micro-study of the administrative history of the Habsburg state at a critical moment in its development, in which approaches of recent military history, methods of historical spatial research and the spatial turn as well as perspectives critical of rule are combined.


„The construction of party identity within the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL)“
PhD Project, Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Andrea Priebe

The project takes up questions of party change research and refers to previous work done by Elmar Wiesendahl. According his hypothesis, parties due to internal inconsistencies, uncertainties concerning their aims and a lack of instruments to motivate or sanction their members face various limting factors regarding their ability to organize themselves. In order to balance such defects parties have to create symbolic mapping processes, which should foster and strengthen the commitment of their members, and thus serve as a basis for the activity of the rank and file. Using the example of the (genealogical) post-communist groups Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (SLD) and Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (PSL) the research aims at exploring the designing processes of the organizational identity in both parties since 1989/90 and it’s actual meaning for the party members to identify with their organizations. In addition to an examination of the official party readings, the empiric base of the project provides a qualitative data analysis of narrative interviews. The interviews were conducted within a field study during several months at both parties on the ground.


The First Jewish Museums in East Central Europe at the Beginning of the 20th Century
Doctoral project, MLU Halle
Dorothea Warneck

Jewish museums and exhibitions are not a phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century. Already at the end of the 19th century there were the first Judaica exhibitions in Europe and from the mid-1890s the first museums were founded (the world's first Jewish museum was opened in Vienna in 1895). Around ten Jewish museums were founded in East-Central Europe between 1906 and 1938 by Jewish private individuals, communities and associations from a wide variety of religious, political and social milieus. This disparity in the contexts of origin and the heterogeneity of the people involved in the projects can also be seen in the programmes of the various museums and their respective orientations towards museum models and concepts.
The dissertation project aims to examine the genesis of these first Jewish museums in East-Central Europe, the beginnings of the musealisation of the Jewish material heritage, which had previously been of exclusively sacral significance and was now also charged with cultural and art historical significance, as a phenomenon of modernity in its multi-layered inner-Jewish, national, transnational, scientific-disciplinary, museological, political and social relations, taking into account the respective specifics of the individual museums. On the one hand, the question will be addressed as to how ideas of Jewish, Polish-Jewish, Czech-Jewish or imperially shaped identity(ies) were to be negotiated, constructed and conveyed via which historical narratives and with which collection and exhibition concepts through the medium of the museum. What was the function and significance of these museums in the context of identity concepts and national histories to be renegotiated in the context of profound ruptures and caesurae at the beginning of the century?
On the other hand, this work aims to find answers to the scientific contexts in which these museum projects came into being, their disciplinary orientations and museological specifics, and to ask what forms of knowledge transfer and what (unofficial), (trans-)national networks and connections existed between the individual Jewish museums and their actors, as well as with other, non-Jewish museums, such as national museums, folklore museums or art history museums. Thus, these early East Central European Jewish museums could be placed in the pan-European context of the phenomenon of the emergence of Jewish museums around the turn of the century on the one hand, and on the other hand within general national and European museological developments and debates of the time. Within the framework of the study, six museum projects will be analysed as examples, which emerged between 1906 and 1934 in the territorial borders of the Second Polish Republic and Czechoslovakia, in urban as well as rural areas.


Capturing Culture - Translating Culture. The novel Wojna polsko-ruska pod flagą biało-czerwoną by D. Masłowska in German and English translation comparison.
PhD project, funded by the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation
Joanna Sulikowska-Fajfer

The doctoral project examines the phenomenon of cultural transfer in the translation of literary texts using the example of a novel by Dorota Masłowska, a Polish writer of the younger generation. The core question here is: How is a Polish-language literary blueprint of culture transferred into the language of the USA, Great Britain and German-speaking countries?
In order to open up this problematic, the project pursues three main questions: First, it examines how culture manifests itself in the source text. Secondly, the question of the classification of translational strategies available to the translator is raised. Thirdly, an attempt will be made to record and describe the translational choices made by the translator(s).
The novel Wojna polsko-ruska pod flagą biało-czerwoną was chosen for the study of literary cultural transfer because it contains numerous passages that explicitly and implicitly address specifically Polish cultural phenomena. The writer's specific narrative style, which manifests itself in a mixture of colloquialisms, vulgarisms, deliberate linguistic errors and high-level expressions, poses a particular challenge for the translation of the culturally conditioned aspects.


Language purism in Slavic with special reference to Polish
PhD project, funded by the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation
Kai Witzlack-Makarevich

Language purism as a component of external language history was also of central importance for the development and formation of the standard Slavic languages. Even if the individual Slavic languages differ considerably from each other in terms of the nature and extent of purism, none of them was able to completely escape its influence. Within the doctoral project, starting from a comprehensive theoretical examination of the research object and against the background of the specific sociolinguistic context, the various manifestations of purism in the Slavic languages will be examined and classified in a typological framework (object/process/motives/orientation/intensity/actors). On the basis of this contrastive overview, it will become clear to what extent purism in Polish, which is the focus of the study, follows general patterns in (Western) Slavic or not, or which particular developments can be identified and why they occurred. On the basis of the research results, Polish will be positioned within Slavic in terms of linguistic purism.


"Bombers, Murderers and Rebels" - The Romantic Phantasm of the Woman's Body and its Transgressions in Contemporary Polish Literature

PhD project, funded by the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation
Iris Bauer

The doctoral project with the working title "Bombers, Murderers and Rebels" - The Romantic Phantasm of the Woman's Body and its Transgressions in Polish Contemporary Literature reads contemporary literary texts as deconstructions of the imaginings of femininity created in the literature of Romanticism, which gave Polish culture its identity. It will be shown to what extent the figurations of the female body in the texts selected so far, such as Sylwia Chutnik's debut novel Kieszonkowy Atlas Kobiet (2008), Dominika Dymińska's poetry collection Danke (2016) and Jacek Dehnel's Matka Makryna (2014), break with the narratives of 'the Polish woman' handed down by the Polish national poets. For despite deconstructions of the system of values and signs of Polish Romanticism that were not only carried out in literature before 1989, as for example in Witold Gombrowicz, who sometimes resists the romantic-patriotic charge of the artist in his texts, as well as individual confrontations with female bodies and their romantic use - for example in Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński or Zofia Nałkowska - it is only after 1989 that one can speak of the beginning of a critical analysis consciously forced on the romantic phantasms. If the literature of the female authors who debuted in the early 1990s, such as Manuela Gretkowska or Izabela Filipiak, is primarily concerned with the differentiation of cultural imaginings of femininity and a demystification of motherhood idealised by Romanticism, it is only the texts of recent contemporary literature that represent targeted transgressions of the Romantic phantasm of the body of 'the Polish woman'. The PhD project pursues the thesis that only these most recent literary examples, in their reflection of the Romantic paradigm, blur gender boundaries and anchor roles liberated from biological gender in new occupations in the cultural imaginary, whereby female figures, contrary to their Romantic, mystified charge and their strongly circumscribed subjectivity, can ultimately also become "murderers, bombers and rebels" (cf. Chutnik, 2008, 100). By linking the romantic phantasm of the 'woman's body' as a literary phenomenon with historical, societal and social contexts, questions of knowledge transfer and power structures, conclusions can be drawn about how Polish society configures itself in its different spaces, in the Romantic period and today (after 1989 and now), or how (literary) identities are constructed with a focus on the field of tension between gender and nation.


The struggle for law in the Prussian partition area. The establishment of legal systems and their actors, 1793-1830

PhD project, funded by the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation
Simon Behnisch

In the Prussian partition territories of Poland - South Prussia, New East Prussia (1793/95-1806) and the Grand Duchy of Posen (from 1815) - different legal cultures clashed. On the one hand, the Prussian administrators wanted to transfer legal provisions from the old Prussian provinces to the new territories; on the other hand, they had to show consideration for Polish legal culture. In the three provinces, different legal texts and cultures from Prussian, Polish and partly French law were in effect. Although the cities in Poland before the partitions had generally enjoyed less autonomy than those in the "Holy Roman Empire", the Prussian administration was confronted with the Polish nobility, which was accustomed to far-reaching opportunities for participation out of a cultural-political tradition and practice.

The period of the Prussian partition territories is usually described and analysed under the term "foreign rule". Such a categorisation implies a juxtaposition of active partition powers with oppressed Polish nobles and commoners. This is especially true for the Prussian partition area, where the nobility and bourgeoisie formally had fewer opportunities for participation than in the Russian and later also in the Austrian partition area. The aim of this work is to break down this confrontation and present a more complex picture. The focus is on the negotiation of legal provisions, with particular attention to the actor perspective, as well as the ideas of law, the application of law and justice that the various actors expressed in texts: Who were the (mainly non-state) actors who participated in the setting of legislation? How did they deal with the different legal cultures? What notion of law, law-making, jurisprudence and justice did they pursue?