Memory politics in Poland under the Law and Justice Party (PiS): constructing narratives of heroism and victimhood using a case study of three Polish museums



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This thesis examines how and why Poland’s current ruling party, the Law and Justice (PiS), implements its memory politics in the following three memorial museums: the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in World War II, and the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, based on theories of collective memory and populism. Core elements of PiS’s memory politics such as martyrdom romanticism, Christian loyalty, conservative values and patriotism, and PiS’s populist discourse emphasizing the moralistic dichotomy of the good we and bad others are reflected in these museums. There are two common narrative paradigms of these museums. First, Poles are innocent victims who suffered from Nazism and Soviet totalitarianism. Second, Poles are heroes fighting for the freedom of Poland and Europe. By constructing narratives of victimhood and heroism, PiS tries to not only rejuvenate patriotic pride and solidify the national identity based on Christian allegiance, martyrdom and heroism, but alleviate Poland’s inferiority complex resulting from always being marginalized in Europe and gain more autonomy from Brussels. These narratives are one - dimensional and don’t invite critical reflections, which poses a question about the justification of political power’s instrumentalization of history.