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The Refugee Crisis in Contemporary Polish Nonfiction: a Case Study

Agnieszka Sadecka

While Polish right-wing politicians eagerly used the so-called refugee crisis in their 2015 parliamentary campaign to foment fear in the society, journalists and writers responded by publishing a collection of stories, NieObcy: 21 opowieÅ›ci, żeby siÄ™ nie bać. Polscy pisarze dla uchodźców [NotForeign: 21 Stories against Fear. Polish Writers for Refugees] (2015). Around the same time, a number of nonficitional accounts appeared, depicting the fate of refugees very differently than the right-wing discourses. This paper explores the representations of migrants and (actual and potential) refugees in works of reportage: Wojciech Tochman and Katarzyna Boni's Kontener [The Container] (2014), JarosÅ‚aw MikoÅ‚ajewski's Wielki przypÅ‚yw [High Tide] (2015), and Artur DomosÅ‚awski's Wykluczeni [The Excluded] (2016). The analysis of these reporters' books will focus not only on the representations of „us" and „them" or the depiction of refugees. It will also show how the Polish writers present the collective inability to act in solidarity with the victims of conflicts and global inequalities. The underlying issue that is noticeable in these texts is the feeling of failure of the nation state and of the European Union as a community. Thus, although these nonfictional accounts situate themselves on the opposite end of the political spectrum than the right-wing anti-refugee rhetoric, the feeling of frustration with the European Union and disillusionment with the elites seems to be shared on both sides of the political arena.

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