The writings and unpublished prison letters of Jacek Kuroń (1934-2004), one of the most Polish engaged activists after WWII, will serve as the material basis for highlighting the productive and creative side of the politics of solidarity historically exemplified by Kuroń and his collaborators.
My dissertation investigates how Kuroń’s political writings, autobiography and prison letters have shaped the attitudes and practices of the political opposition. His political trajectory can be traced back from his Marxist and revisionist activism in the 1950s to his founding role in KOR (Workers’ Defense Committee) in 1976. Kuroń’s biography and writings as well as his social environment, which helped form the political and emotional habitus of many activists, epitomize the complexity and difficulties of creating a sustainable oppositional political community.
Yet, Kuroń has never been easy to categorize. While being an admired and contested icon of the political opposition and its social sensitivity, his left-wing ideals have become difficult to maintain in post-89 Polish society and he remains relatively unknown beyond Poland.
My research project aims at reconstructing Kuroń’s understanding of politics by linking it to the social and emotional dynamic in his closest political surrounding. In this context, understanding the role of emotions in shaping political friendships that became a social basis for political mobilization reveals the hitherto under-researched side of Solidarność.