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From Neutralization to Zombification: Memory Games and Communist Perpetrators in Poland after 1989

Author:

Piotr Osęka

ISPPAN, PL
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Abstract

The aim of this article is to discern and analyse three dominant strategies in the memory games employed in public discourse in Poland, all of which have the aim of ‘finishing the revolution’. These are: neutralization, retribution and zombification. Within this discursive framework, the dark legacy of the Communist secret police is seen to loom constantly over the rebirth of Poland and to be the root cause of social problems such as poverty, economic inequalities and ‘lack of moral standards’. Neutralization, retribution and zombification reflect three underpinning narratives that are interwoven into the politics of memory in Poland. The ‘neutralization’ approach, embedded in the vision of the past controlling the present, stands for an effort to deprive the perpetrators of their supposed hidden powers. The strategy of retribution translates into a demand to restore justice, thought of as a kind of ‘moral equilibrium’, both using legal measures and symbolic representations of the past. Finally, I use the term ‘zombification’ to describe widespread attempts to manipulate collective memory in order to bring dead perpetrators back to life.
How to Cite: Osęka, P., 2018. From Neutralization to Zombification: Memory Games and Communist Perpetrators in Poland after 1989. Journal of Perpetrator Research, 2(1), pp.119–144. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jpr.2.1.22
Published on 16 Dec 2018.
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