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Alternative title:

“The breath of Russia freezes my back”: the Soviet Union and Russia in the geopolitical imaginations of Polish popular music after 1989

Subject and Keywords:

popular geopolitics   geopolitical imaginations   Polish popular music   Polish foreign policy   USSR   Russia


The issue of geographical/geopolitical imaginations is related to the broader so-called cultural turn in geography that has brought researchersʼ attention to how people imagine space and what conditions this type of social practice. Geopolitical imaginations are the basic area of research in critical geopolitics. They produce a map of the world and are a way of defining the place of thenation and state in this world by influential social groups, mainly from an elite circle. Their premise is the basic identity distinction used by Edward Said in imaginary geography between “us” and “them”, “familiars” and “strangers”. Popular geopolitics as a part of critical geopolitics deals with the production of geopolitical imaginations in popular culture and music as well as in the mass media. The phenomenon of popular music is difficult to precisely define due to the variability and constant emergence of new styles. In these studies, I analyse some Polish popular music trends using selected song lyrics as a source. The purpose of this article as a case study ofpopular geopolitics is to analyse the production of geopolitical images of the USSR and Russia among the creators of Polish popular music after 1989, as well as some identity, cultural, political, and generational conditions related to it. I put forward the main hypothesis that the image of the USSR/Russia in the imaginations of Polish popular music was lasting and showcased a figure of the enemy by using many myths and symbols from Polish history. In addition, it was consistent with the image of the vast majority of political elites and society. Such an interdisciplinary research problem was not extensively studied in Polish science and required the use of a critical geopolitical research method in the form of discourse analysis of song lyrics, and a systemic method treating the geopolitical ideas of Polish symbolic elites as a coherent and inter - related system with different subsystems, including images created by individual elite environments.In the geopolitical imaginations about the USSR/Russia, there is an echo of an idea, prevalent for the last 200 years, of the “cursedˮ place of Poland in Europe, i.e. at the crossroads of East and West, on the periphery of Western civilisation, threatened by stronger Russia and Germany. Integration with the culturally close West, which was the basis of Polish foreign policy after 1989, led to a parting with this image, reconciliation with Germany to enter Western political and military structures. In contrast, Russia, regardless of various political systems, remained in our geopolitical imaginations as alien to civilisation and geopolitically hostile, as a part of Asia, non-Europe, a symbol of backwardness, barbarism, dictatorship. The historical picture of Polandʼs relations with Russia referred to in popular music is above all foreignness, conflict, and war. This message was accepted by most Poles because it was easy to communicate, based on a difficult mutual history and the resulting emotions, prejudices, and myths. This strengthened the role ofPolesʼ martyrdom and heroism, resistance, and disobedience. This resentment allowed us to transform our defeats into victories, especially moral ones, which were in a way a weapon for theweak against the strong.

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ISSN 0239-6661   ISSN 0137-1126




PAd P 101182 II



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