„The future of the past. Retelling Central Europe” – a debate

Friday, the 26th of May; 6.15 – 7.45 p.m., The Big Stage at Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw 


➤ moderator: prof. Iwona Kurz 

➤ participants: 
– Kateryna Babkina – Ukrainian writer, journalist, poet, and screenwriter
prof. Przemysław Czapliński – literary critic, professor of contemporary literature, works at the Institute of Polish Philology at Adam Mickiewicz University 
prof. Simona Škrabec – Slovenian literary scholar, essayist, and translator
prof. Jan Sowa – sociologist, cultural scholar, theoretician, and social researcher, lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.


On one hand, the war in Ukraine forces us to return to this entangled in imperial propaganda narratives history, while on the other hand, it makes us suspend the conflicts and attempts at settling the score, like in the case of our Polish-Ukrainian past. The joint visit of the Polish and Ukrainian presidents to the Lychakiv Cemetery may have only been a symbolic gesture in the time of war, or perhaps, it will turn out to be a preview of a real change in the thinking of our shared history. And this is just one episode in the long history of wars, massacres, and conflicts in the region called “bloodlands” by Timothy Snyder.

The decolonization postulated in the ongoing culture war must cover not only our attitude towards Russian culture and the positions we take against Russia but also the mutual relations between the countries in the region – in a configuration system, not in a continuous “between” the West (Europe) and the East (Russia) – and the attitude to history in each of them. The debate, therefore, concerns our shared past – how it is told in myth, history, and literature, to what extent this story changes, and how it could change.