Women’s rights week at CES!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWomen’s rights week is starting at CES today. This is a week long project initiated by CES student, Alexia Fafara. Alexia is a first year MA student of a two-year Polish-French double degree programme, jointly run by the Institute of European Studies JU and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques at the University of Strasbourg. We have asked her some questions in order to present her “Women’s rights week” project to you. 


1. What has inspired you to organize Women’s rights week? 

I am a women’s rights activist for some years now and I think that every opportunity is good to seize even if it is just symbolic or at a very small scale. As far as CES is very open to all kinds of suggestions i just said to myself “Why not?”.

2. What is the aim of the project? 

The aim of the project is to raise awareness. Of course we are in a context where people are probably already aware of some problems but i often hear that there is no need to fight for women’s rights anymore because they are not threatened as they used to be. I totally disagree with this analysis. If we just take a look at what is happening  in Poland we clearly see that we have to be constantly ready to defend our rights and not to take things for granted. Women’s rights are threatened everywhere and Europe is not an exception.

Also, i often hear that 8th March should not exist, that there should not be a woman’s day and i take this opportunity to correct it: 8th March is not about celebrating a specific kind of woman or about making sales in supermarkets which are often absurd because they are spreading very sexist stereotypes like “Woman’s day: sales on washing machines” or as i saw yesterday on a billboard from a well-known supermarket where it was written : “Woman’s day: one shower gel bought, one for free”. The point is that it is not a  “woman’s day” but a “women’s rights day”. On this day, we raise awareness about the rights of ALL women. Actually, to achieve this goal everyone should be involved, women and men. It is all about understanding that when women will have the same opportunities as men, everyone will win from this situation.

3. Why do you think people should be interested in the project?

I don’t know if people will be interested, i just can hope! It would be great to see people involved as far as it is something that really have an impact on our everyday’s lives, for women as for men. I hope that a lot of people are going to take some time to stop on the hall of CES, to read the informations and to write some wishes on the board that is available all this week. And of course i hope it will inspire some people so we could create new projects for the next months.

4. What events are planned?

I planned three things. First of all you can find on the hall of CES a “Make a wish for women board” and some informations about women’s rights in EU and in the world. Everyone can write a wish regarding women’s rights on this board: it can be something you consider as a priority for women’s rights in 2017 or simply a general wish. On Wednesday, we transform the usual movie night of CES into a special movie night by broadcasting the movie “Solidarnosci wedlug kobiet”. This movie underlines the crucial role of Polish women into the movement Solidarnosc. This is an opportunity to remember that history is also written by women and that they deserve to see their fight acknowledged. Eventually on Friday at 7pm in Massolit, we will be really glad to have a discussion with Professor Smadar Lavie from the Department of Ethnic Studies  in the University of California, through the topic “Mizrahi Feminism and Palestine at the Crossroads”.  That is all for this week but i plan to organize other things during the semester.

5. Do you have any suggestions for students who are thinking about starting a project of their own?

As a good friend of mine would say: Just do it! Don’t think it is not important or that your action does not matter because it does, even at a small level. Moreover, CES Staff is very supportive and will be happy to hear your ideas.

A Review of the Exhibition “Wesela 21” and Oskar Kolberg’s Year Related Events

2014 The Oscar Kolberg’s year

A review of the exhibition “Wesela 21” and Oskar Kolberg’s year related events.

By: Gabriela Golonka

 Every year, the Polish government chooses one famous Polish personality to be a patron of the given year. Many events are prepared in order to raise awareness about the given patron’s lifework which were important additions to the national cultural treasure. Conferences and exhibitions are organized all over Poland.  As of the January 1st , the year 2014 was named the Oscar Kolberg’s year. The Ethnographic Museum in Cracow prepared an interesting exhibition about this ethnographer’s life and with the exhibition “Wesela 21” it puts in perspective what’s left today from wedding’s traditions and customs described by Kolberg.

You might be surprised to hear Koblerg’s name as it is not the one you can hear on an everyday basis. Up until now the decision of the government in terms of patrons was cast on very known poets, musicians or scientist that everyone have at least heard about once in their lives. This year, only 8% of people asked on the streets of Warsaw and Cracow knew who  Oskar Kolberg was and what he did  to deserve this high honor. Cracow is one of the main cities of interest for this year’s program since Oskar Kolberg spent here 20 years of his life and was buried in the Cmentarz Rakowicki.

Born in 1814 in a small city of Przysucha,  since his youth Kolberg expressed a particular interest in culture of different regions of Poland. He traveled a lot and published his work in articles for different magazines at the time.  After years of research and thorough examination of Polish regions and its traditions he gathered all his findings in a compilation of 33 books titled “Lud” (“People”) containing over 12,000 folk song, 670 fairy tales, 2700 proverbs, 350 riddles, many folk spectacles and many others ethnographic documents that compose a unique ensemble of knowledge about particularities of each region’s traditions and life styles.

 He was also known for his musical ear and from early years played the piano and later on composed few of his own pieces, operas and songs. Since he was brought up a rich family he had access to some famous composers of that time. His brother was a close friend of Fryderyk Chopin. He first started to take notes of some folk songs heard in the Warsaw region in his twenties and he published them in 1840. Even though, this first edition of 125 folk songs was rather criticized (mostly for taking some liberties in the transcription of notes and words and adding some elements that were not there in the original version), he continued his work and published soon after the first one, another parts of folk songs of Wielkopolska.

 Even though his unique interest in Polish folk culture was always recognized as an important groundwork for all other writers and researchers that continued his work after his death, he soon find himself without funds. And so, after spending the most of his life in Warsaw he moved to Cracow in 1871 where his work were a big success among the Cracow’s Scientific Society which promised him a subvention and help to publish his books.

 He always believed that no one can understand a culture without knowing its roots and sources. His rich collection of articles, books, music notes are considered up until now a unique source of knowledge about the early XIX century culture and it is considered a groundwork for countless researches that followed his death. He died in Cracow in 1890.

The Oskar Kolberg’s year will raise awareness about this important researcher. In order to do so, many conferences, events, concerts and exhibitions will be organized though out all year in different cities mainly Warsaw, Cracow, Poznan, Rzeszow and also in his birthplace of Przysucha.

Among many, long lost traditions described by Kolberg in his books, one of them caught my attention. It is a tradition of crowning a King on the 6th of January. The 6th of January is the last festive day of Christmas in Poland and according to tradition people gathered around a cake in which a single almond was hidden. The person who discovers the almond is named “the king” and deserve a special treatment for the day. Founding out about this tradition surprised me a lot since I have learnt about this tradition in France where it is an ongoing custom. The 6th of January is called there a fête des rois, the French share a special almond cake called la gallette des rois with a small surprise hidden in its stuffing –  a little figurine called la fève, it could also be an almond just like Kolberg described it.  The person who finds it is proclaimed King for the day. This warm and family event is sadly long gone from the Polish traditions, but the next time you hear about the french fête des rois be sure to mention the similar Polish tradition.

All Kolberg related events and conferences are available on this website:  http://www.kolberg2014.org.pl/en/2014/idea          


Some Like Poetry

On February 11, 2013 at 8 pm, many will come together to celebrate the life and art of Wislawa Szymborska at the Krakow Opera, along with Tomasz Stanko and his New York Quartet and other of the poet’s friends. One will be able to enjoy Szymborska’s poetry as well as a musical programme. Tickets are still on available.

Divine Comedy

The 5th International “Divine Comedy” Theatre Festival is almost here! From December 5 – 13, Cracovians can enjoy some of the best and most intriguing Polish theatrical performances. This is “an emotionally-charged competition for Polish performances (Inferno), intriguing debuts and special events (Purgatorio), and the latest productions by young directors (Paradiso)…(Karnet).” For more information, go to www.boskakomedia.pl

Bruno Schulz Event at CES

Celebrate the 70th anniversary of Bruno Schulz’s death with a fabulous multimedia event organized by CES’ Ola Wiecha. Learn about the life and work of this great artist and writer!

You’re invited to join us in:

– Reading Schulz and work about Schulz in the special reading corner on the Street of Crocodiles

– Watching movies and documentaries about him and his stories in the Drohobycz Theater (from 10:30 am – 2 pm)

– Learning about Schulz from Various presentations and graphics in the Cinnamon Shops and in the Sanatorium under the sign of the hourglass.