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Antagonism, Absurdity, and the Avant-Garde: Dismantling Soviet Oppression through the Use of Theatrical Devices by Poland's “Orange” Solidarity Movement

  • Lisiunia A. Romanienko
Abstract

Since the birth of Solidarity twenty-five years ago, scholars have examined this unique Polish apparatus of defiance from nearly every institutional perspective known to the social sciences. Yet very little attention has been paid to the role of the human agency that gave rise to this powerful force of national resistance. Even less attention has been devoted to the influence of emotion, and of laughter in particular, in mobilizing this unprecedented scale of subversive activities against the Soviet empire. By deploying discursive devices offered through avant-garde performance, Solidarity's regional art student faction known as the “Orange Alternative” helped to dismantle Soviet aggression by unifying Poles under the rubric of culturally specific nostalgic humour. Low state capacity, recognition claims for optimizing human potential, and other microdynamics of oppositional consciousness are some of the factors discussed which enabled humour to strengthen the movement and prevent exogenous special interests from altering its objectives.

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Footnotes
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This research was made possible by a grant from the Kosciuszko Foundation. An earlier version was presented at the 2007 Alternative Futures and Popular Protest Conference in Manchester. The author would like to thank Waldemar Major Fydrych, Ludwika Ogorzelec, Colin Barker, and several anonymous reviewers for their assistance in the preparation of this manuscript. Please address all inquiries to lroman@ix.netcom.com.
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International Review of Social History
  • ISSN: 0020-8590
  • EISSN: 1469-512X
  • URL: /core/journals/international-review-of-social-history
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