New Texts from Centre Fellow Karolina Kluczewska

The KHK’s Postdoc Research Fellow Dr. Karolina Kluczewska has recently published two thought-provoking texts online, each representing explorations of some of her key research engagements at the Centre.

'The Fate of Unwanted Art: Poland’s Symbolic Dealing with the Communist Past’, was published through the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) and represents a reflection which further develops themes suggested by the Reimagining the Past conference, jointly organized by CIPS and the Centre for Global Cooperation Research and held virtually this past June.

The article is a problematization of how Poland has dealt with public Soviet-era monuments since the 1989 rejection of socialism. At the outset, Kluczewska asks, ‘were the statues preserved or removed? If removed, when and how? What happened to them they were taken down?’ The text also openly challenges the idea of ‘official narratives’ and highlights how the power of a reimagined past operates in the public sphere.

Kluczewska points out that there has been no public debate in Poland on the subject of removing these monuments, stating that ‘defending the monuments is seen as justifying the enslavement of the nation’. Instead, the works have been rather quietly moved into museums, where they are styled as part of a serious engagement with historical education, while simultaneously repeating what she calls the ‘martyrological’ version of a reimagined past.

‘How 9/11 Reshaped the International Development Scene in Central Asia’, published on the website of the 9/11 Legacies Project, is an analysis of the ongoing challenges brought to Central Asia subsequent to the Global War on Terror. Kluczewska explains that military engagement in Afghanistan relied heavily on bases in neighbouring Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan which provided the U.S. and NATO spaces from which to coordinate intervention efforts.

Kluczewska, whose research focusses heavily on Tajikistan, notes that in this country alone, international development assistance increased 100% in the first years of the War. However, development aid must not be understood as a universal good. Instead, it is important to problematize the effects of development using a wider lens of analysis. A great deal of funding has indeed been delivered to the region, but its deployment has often ignored the real needs of people on the ground. The imaginings of international donors are therefore greatly misaligned with the actual impact on the ‘existential insecurity of many social groups’ in the region.