Opening Borders, Closing Nations: How ‘Generation Nothing’ Stages Polish Migration

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It is regularly noted that the first generation of theatre makers in Poland to produce work after the demise of communism have emphasized a concern with the fate of the individual over the collective that was markedly absent in previous generations. Maria Janion has argued that this generation represents the conclusion of the Polish romantic paradigm, comprised of common values around which cultural identity was constituted during the partitions and occupations of the country in nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Referred to in the 1990s as the JPII generation, a designation given to those born around 1978 when John Paul II began his papacy, Generation NIC (Nothing) is often cited as a more accurate term as no singular set of shared principles has replaced the romantic tradition. While many critics have lamented this breakdown of social cohesion, there is no doubt a nascent pluralism and the cultivation of distinctive and personalized attitudes to national character, accepted morality and public discourse have led to striking innovations in contemporary Polish theatre. The opening up of European borders and the prospect of easy emigration have been major contributors to changes in artistic output and are perhaps some of the most influential factors in the shaping of this generation’s cultural outlook. This article considers the transnational influences recent shifts in inter-EU migration have engendered in Poland and the UK, focusing on recent theatre productions that have grappled with intercultural tensions, growing prejudices and an increasing trend to identify between, rather than with, nations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-20
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2014

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