Dr. Olga Gontarska is a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute Warsaw. She studied at the Institute of History at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. She graduated in 2006. She also received a post-graduate diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Warsaw (2007). After completing her doctoral studies at the Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, in 2021 she defended her doctoral thesis on visions of the past in the Ukrainian feature films since 1991 (summa cum laude). From 2007 to 2019 she worked as a manager in media, facilitator in NGO and as a journalist. Since June 2021 she is a researcher at the German Historical Institute Warsaw.
From the Return to Europe framework to the EU-skepticism. The Polish Debate on the European identity and values?
The main assumptions of the project are the historicization of Euroscepticism, including a wide range of “Eurosceptic” attitudes, and identifying of historical references instrumentalized in the debate. The research procedure will include elements of the qualitative discourse analysis. The aim is to mark actors (individual, collective and institutional) active in the debate and to contextualize their statements (media, financial support, political networks). However, the key issue will be identifying historical references (ideas, myths, and symbols), such as Polish messianism, Polonia Antemurale Christianitatis, or “Betrayal of the West”.
One of the research questions is how the various stages of the process of Poland’s integration with the European Union influenced the change of attitudes and to what extent this was connected to the set of values promoted by the EU as an element of the European identity. The hypothesis about the key role of the experience of foreign domination, which influenced the strengthening of the attitude of reluctance towards any attempts to interfere in internal affairs, will be verified. The important issue will be also the question of how the challenge of creating a narrative about the shared European past has been an impetus for the development of Eurosceptic attitudes.
Current status and next steps
One of the main challenges identified so far is the chronological asynchronicity of the debate on European integration in Western Europe and the countries of the former Eastern bloc, as well as choosing appropriate conceptual framework to place the Polish case in the pan-European and global context and to avoid the normative approach. The current research focuses on the debate on the House of European History (Brussels) as a case study that will help to check the initial methodological assumptions.