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Being Goral

Identity Politics and Globalization in Postsocialist Poland

Deborah Cahalen Schneider

Publication Year: 2006

The Góral ethnic identity has been at the center of political machinations in Poland for centuries. The late Pope John Paul II, for example, was a Góral. This is the first book-length study of the Góral identity and one of the few studies in English to discuss Górals. Through personal interviews, local manuscripts, and academic histories of the region, author Deborah Cahalen Schneider shows how important the Góral identity has been to Poland’s history. The conflict over the Góral identity in the community of Zùywiec, Poland serves as a lens through which Schneider views national identity issues and class conflict in Poland at large. The Góral identity not only gave this community a sense of togetherness under the Habsburg Empire, but also was a symbol of Polish identity for Polish nationalists during that time. Schneider shows how the Góral identity has spanned the rise and, arguably, the fall of nationalism as the primary discourse of political identity in the post–Cold War, European Union–dominated Eastern Europe.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in National Identities


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. vii

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Chapter 1: The Day the Pope Came to Town

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pp. 1-26

May 21, 1995, Pope John Paul II came to town. I had been living and conducting research in Żywiec for almost nine months. Excitement had been building for weeks, ever since the pontiff announced that he would have a “private” visit to Żywiec, meaning that only town residents would be allowed on the main square while he was speaking. Everyone had an explanation for why the pope had ...

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Chapter 2: A Political and Economic History of the ťwiec Region

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pp. 27-62

... very first visit to ťywiec occurred while I was a student at Jagiellonian University in Krak

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Chapter 3: Elite Class Struggles and Authority

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pp. 63-96

... the changing social structure of power in ťywiec involves looking at class conflict around the political and economic changes resulting from the fall of communism—those local changes that are driven by national policies aimed at decentralizing the economy and political system. Rather than just looking at changes in class structure between socialism and the postsocialist era, to understand the ...

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Chapter 4: Nonelites, Family Networks, and Identity

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pp. 97-134

... restructuring of the Polish political-economic system since the end of the Cold War has had a great impact not only on the large-scale factors of the national economy, such as state enterprises, and on the scale of communities and classes, but also on the microeconomic strategizing of individuals and families. In ťywiec, as in most of Poland ...

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Chapter 5: The Community, the Nation-State, and Globalization

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pp. 135-166

... far, I have shown how traditionalism is an idiom through which elite class conflict is occurring in ťywiec. The prewar elite and the neocapitalists are struggling over the emphasis on and interpretation of the G

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Chapter 6: Politics, Culture,and Modernity in Postcultural Poland

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pp. 167-182

... John Paul II’s visit to ťywiec was a context within which ťywiecers acted out conflicting ideologies of traditionalism and modernity. The papal visit presented an opportunity for different groups of ťywiecers to express their visions of the future for the community. On that highly charged public occasion, the two elite classes, which I ...


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pp. 183-190


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pp. 191-204


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pp. 205-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482254
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791466551
Print-ISBN-10: 0791466558

Page Count: 220
Illustrations: 3 b/w photographs, 2 figures
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series in National Identities
Series Editor Byline: Thomas M. Wilson See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 65338968
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Being Goral

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Żywiec Region (Poland) -- Social conditions.
  • Group identity -- Poland -- Żywiec Region.
  • Social classes -- Poland -- Żywiec Region.
  • Żywiec Region (Poland) -- Politics and government.
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