Institute of European Ethnology
"Allotments in Nowa Huta: the Practices of Gardeners and the Culture of Dwelling"
In my doctoral project, I am researching the practices of gardeners and the culture of dwelling (Ingold) in the allotment gardens of the Steelworks in Nowa Huta. I am investigating the time period from 1970 until the present day, focusing on socialism, but spanning also post-socialism. Today, Nowa Huta is a district of Kraków, however, it was originally built as a model industrial, working-class town in 1951, in the wake of the socialist transformation in Poland. It was the flagship project of the Stalinist period and its propaganda.
I am studying three sets of processes and practices that the original users of the allotment gardens participated in: the founding of the gardens – planning, settlement and parcelling; their habitation – obtainment of plots, building of altany (small garden houses), growing crops and breeding animals; and their transformation – change of the socioeconomic system, change in the culture of dwelling and generational change. I am researching each of these issues from the perspective of the original gardeners, confronting and complementing it with archival documents of the authorities of the allotment gardens, the Steelworks and the district. I am conducting fieldwork – participant observation and in-depth interviews – and archival queries, which feed into and authenticate each other.
The first scientific objective of this project is to understand, describe and conceptualise the ecology, ontology, economy and epistemology of the allotment gardens of Nowa Huta. The second scientific ambition, is an attempt to find a new way of thinking about socialism and postsocialism, based on the experience of the allotment gardeners and heavy industry workers. The allotment gardens seem to be an alternative landscape of socialism and postsocialism – one of activity, coping, independence, creativity, contrivance and abundance.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Johannes Moser, Dr. hab. Włodzimierz Pessel, and Dr. Ewa Klekot
Cotutelle: University of Warsaw