Polish Colonial Histories

Currently I am working on unveiling Polish colonial histories hoping to prevent further replication of racial stereotypes in contemporary Poland.

This research project is in fact a proposal to revise the history of Polish culture in the “age of empires”, i.e. from the 1870s to World War I, by posing questions about the complicity of Polish society in the Western colonial enterprise. It is thus my aim to reflect on Polish colonial fantasies and forms of participation in colonialism in global and regional contexts that have been suppressed by the comfortable discourse of the innocent bystander.

The research material consists of theatre shows, cultural and social performances which both constructed and derived from racial and colonial imaginaries in Polish society at the turn of the 20th century.


So far, I have published an article titled Ashantis in Warsaw: Notions of “Blackness” in Polish Society at the Turn of the 20th Century – A Preparatory Contribution to Polish Colonial History. In this text an analysis of ethnographic shows and their linguistic “remnants” provided a starting point for an exploration of the ways in which “blackness” was conceptualised in late nineteenth-century Polish society.

I plan to publish two volumes: Polish Colonial Histories. Blackness and Polish Colonial History. Indigeneity investigating the relation between polishness and blackness or indigeneity respectively.

International Exchange

I presented this research at the Viva Africa conference (IX 2021) in Prague, where I engaged with researchers from the region working on related topics (including prof. Marketa Křížová and prof. Stephanie Rudwick). Discussions continued in September 2022 at the Regional Studies Association (RSA CEE) conference, where I was invited to participate in a panel on race in Central and Eastern Europe; and then in Warsaw in September 2023 at the international seminar Colonial Entanglements in Central and Eastern Europe Before 1939, which I organised together with dr Łukasz Zaremba at our own Institute of Polish Culture. The Polish Colonial Histories project thus involves the establishing of a regional network of researchers interested in colonial topics. It is also attracting interest in the international theatre community – I have presented preliminary papers at conferences of the IFTR (Cardiff 2022) and EASTAP (Aarhus 2023).


I have been involved in the establishment at the University of Warsaw of the Postcolonial Studies Interdisciplinary Research Group, which organises regular seminar and public events. At the Institute of Polish Culture I teach a year-long Postcolonial Seminar, for which I have developed my own original syllabus.
In addition, I was awarded a grant at my university, Polish Colonial Histories – Reconnaissance, to carry out pilot research in 2023-24.


I put together a group of remarkable scholars to discuss colonial aspects of theatre history and practice at the ATHE 2024 conference in Atlanta. If you are planning to come to Atlanta, please consider joining our roundtable: Silenced Theatre Histories: Global Insights into Theatre, Colonialism and Race. I will be talking about Polish stagings of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and thus about Polish nineteenth-century understanding of slavery and blackness.

Earlier, in June 2024, you can meet me at the INCSA Conference in Durham, UK. Here I will present a paper: Vampires in Saint-Domingue. Early-Nineteenth Century Scripts of Blackness in Polish Society.