The original intent of our project was to take a snapshot of minority life in Poland. What we even meant by this at the beginning is unclear. But we somehow knew that at a point in Polish history when the ethnic demographics are rather homogeneous, and the stories of minority groups in Poland aren’t so widely disseminated, it was important to present them to a broader audience (while learning about them for ourselves). And for a country with such a rich tradition of cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity, we wanted to provide a touchstone for those interested in these issues and open up new debates and discussions.
We encountered a number of logistical issues at the outset, but came up with some creative ways to deal with them, and think we’ve set the parameters for a good project.
1.) How to separate between ethnic/national minority groups and other, different but important, groups such as people with disabilities?
2.) How to separate between old and new minorities? For instance, there are Slovaks living in Poland who have been here for ten years, but communities that date back much further.
3.) How to choose representatives from the minority groups? With only three months to do interviews and dozens of groups to choose from, there is only limited time to spend with each group.
1.) We decided, with the help of our advisers at the US Embassy to focus on the minority groups recognized by the Polish Ministry of the Interior.
2.) We decided to focus on the rooted minority communities whenever possible–groups whose homes are in modern day Poland, whether by historical accident design.
3.) There’s no way we can get a rigorous, bottom-line, on the most important features of each of the groups on our list. But we hope to collect interesting stories that either indirectly or directly give a picture of the relationship between Poland and its minority groups.
Minority groups to visit:
The nine recognized national minority groups:
The four recognized ethnic minority groups