Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Professor Barbara Klich-Kluczewska

Fellow Imre Kertész Kolleg Professor Barbara Klich-Kluczewska

January - October 2019

Barbara Klich-Kluczewska was a fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg from January until October 2019. She is an Associate Professor at the Department of History, Jagiellonian University in Krakow. In 2018 she habilitated with the dissertation Rodzina, tabu i komunizm w Polsce (1956-1989) [Family, Taboo and Communism in Poland, 1956-1989] (Kraków, 2015), whose English version will be published in 2020 (Peter Lang). Barbara Klich-Kluczewska was recently a visiting professor at Universitat Martin Luther Halle (the course: ‘Biopolitics and Everyday Life in East Central Europe: Discourses, Representations and Memory’). She was also a visiting fellow in Prague (project “Sozialistische Diktatur als Sinnwelt”, USD AV and the ZZF Potsdam, 2009), Berlin (project “Physical Violence and State Legitimacy in Late Socialism" ZZF Potsdam, 2013) and visiting professor in Rochester University, United States (2009). She is /was/ a member of the numerous research teams, recently: Rooms for Maneuver in State Socialism. Between Adaptation and Experiment (Warsaw University and Siegen University 2016-2019), Gender history as a subject of knowledge: theoretical frames and research practice of studies on women’s past in Poland in international context (Warsaw University, 2016-2019) and Utopische Gemeinschaften. Ideen – Realisierungsversuche – Nachwirkung, 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, (GZWO Universitat Liptzig).

Research project at the Kolleg

The Experts’ Knowledge and Biopolitics in Post-war Poland’

The main concern of the research project is the production of experts’ knowledge and its political role in the transformation of post-war Polish society. It raises the problem of sociological, demographic, economic, sexological and obstetric knowledge through the prism of concepts and ideas of fertility patterns and model family, the intellectual sources of the analysed knowledge and knowledge networks and the question of experts agency. The implementation of the experts’ knowledge into the official social policy and guidance practices (the centrally controlled research and educational programs, the official councils membership etc.) stays as a very important question of the analysis. On the interpretation level, it is crucial to refer to modern – that is, rational and expert knowledge-propelled – social control methods, strictly connected with the concepts of modern society. The key aspect is the tension between biopolitics understood in terms of actions and strategies of modern dictatorship devised to control a population and the concepts/ideas of modernity that appeared in expert discourses in the context of, inter alia, decreasing natality, modern birth control methods or practices related to maternity and paternity. Analysed are experts’ opinions proving dominant in the discourse, including the arguments put forth at sessions of the Family Council (Rada do spraw Rodziny) and other institutional bodies, as well as the associations dominate by experts e.g. Planned Parenthood Association.

The main timeframe of the analysis is, on the one hand, based on the supposed ‘expertbreakthrough’ of the Gierek decade (December 1970–September 1980) – the phenomenon that, to my mind, should be an important element in the discussion on modernisation in Poland in the latter half of the twentieth century; on the other hand, it is set within the context of the deepening politico-economic crisis, which is an aspect of interest from the standpoint of modernisation postulates. It needs being emphasised that the debate on the topic of our interest intensified primarily (and expectedly) in the years 1970–89. In spite of the concentration over the last two decades of People’s Poland, the analysis of the construction and implementation of the knowledge will be embedded in a broad context of 45 years debates and social policy transformation, beginning with the post-war policy deeply rooted in the problem of war losses.

Main areas of research

  • Anthropological and social history of the communist era in East Central Europe
  • Gender, sexuality and biopolitics
  • History of family
  • History of childhood
  • Methodology of private life and everyday life
  • Oral history


Rodzina, tabu i komunizm w Polsce, 1956-1989 [Family, taboo and communism in Poland, 1956- 1989] (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Libron, 2015)

English edition in preparation (Peter Lang, 2020)

Przez dziurkę od klucza. Życie prywatne w Krakowie, 1945- 1989 [Through the keyhole. Private life in Krakow, 1945-1989] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo TRIO, 2005)


‘Z daleka od sierocińca. Adopcje nieformalne i rodzinne domy dziecka w systemie opieki nad dzieckiem w PRL‘[Far from Children’s Home. Informal Adoptions and Family Group Homes in the Child Care System in the People’s Republic of Poland], Przegląd Historyczny 109, no 4 (2018): 819- 841.

‘Biopolitics and (non-)modernity. Population micro-policy, expert knowledge and family in late-communist Poland’, Acta Poloniae Historica 115 (2017): Multiple Modernities of State Socialism, 151-174.

‘Goodbye Communism, Hello Remembrance. Historical Paradigms and the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland’ in: Faces of the Agent: Secret Agents and the Memory of Everyday Collaboration with the Communist Regimes, edited by P. Apor, S. Horvath, J. Mark (Anthem Press, 2017), 37-57.

‘Młodzież, seks, cenzorzy i ludzie. O debacie wokół filmu „Seksolatki”’[Youth, sex, censors and people. On the debate about the movie “Seksolatki”, 1972] in: Kultura popularna w Polsce w latach 1944-1989. Między projektem ideologicznym a kontestacją, edited by K. Stańczak- Wiślicz (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2015), 130-149.

‘Making up for the losses of war: Reproduction politics in Postwar Poland’ in: Women and Men at War: A Gender Perspective on World War II and its Aftermath in Central and Eastern Europe; edited by R. Leiserowitz and M. Röger (fibre Verlag- Osnabrück, 2012), 307-328.

Przypadek Marii spod Bochni. Próba analizy mikrohistorycznej procesu o aborcję z 1949 roku’ [The Case of Maria of Bochnia. An Attempt at a Micro-Historical Analysis of an Abortion Court Case from 1949], Rocznik Antropologii Historii 2: 2012,195-209.

‘Social Policy and Social Practice in People’s Republic of Poland’ in: Social Policy and State Socialism, edited by S. Hering, (Barbara Budrich 2009), 161-174.

‘Unzüchtiger Realsozialismus. Prostitution in der Volksrepublik Polen’, Osteuropa 6: (2006) Mythos Europa. Prostitution, Migration, Frauenhandel, 303- 317.


review of A. Kościańska, Płeć, przyjemność i przemoc. Kształtowanie wiedzy eksperckiej o seksualności w Polsce (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2014), Aspasia. The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History 10 (2016): 201-203.

review ofThe Collectivization of Agriculture in Communist Eastern Europe. Comparison and Entanglements, edited by Constantin Iordachi, Arnd Bauerkämper (Budapest - New York 2014), w:

review of M. Fidelis, Women, Communism, and Industrailization in Postwar Poland (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Aspasia. The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History 9 (2015): 162-164.

review of And They Lived Happily Ever After. Norms and Everyday Practices of Family and Parenthood in Russia and Central Europe, edited by Helene Carlbäck, Yulia Gradskova and Zhanna Kravchenko, (CEU Press, Budapest – New York 2012), Studia Historyczne 2014: 423-426.

review of S. Fitzpatrick, Życie codzienne pod rządami Stalina. Rosja radziecka w latach trzydziestych XX wieku (Kraków, 2012), Rocznik Antropologii Historii” 3, no 2 (2013): 340-343.

The full list of publications can be found on the website of the Jagiellonian University