ORIGINAL RESEARCH article
Sec. Refugees and Conflict
Contesting Flexible Solidarity: Poland and the “Migration Crisis”
- 1Center for Migration Studies (CeBaM), Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
- 2Institute of Anthropology and Ethnology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
New forms of solidarity are being shaped as a response to the European “refugee crisis. ” The states have not been able to implement any viable or sustainable solution to the crisis, but the solidarity movement has been very visible and active in many European countries and rejected in others. This paper focuses on Poland, a country that gave birth to the Solidarność labor movement in 1980, but was recently reprimanded by the European Union for its lack of solidarity with other countries that accepted refugees. In this paper, we trace the rapture of the Solidarity movement and the emergence of solidarities with migrants and refugees in local Polish communities and abroad. We juxtapose the Polish government's call for “flexible solidarity” mechanisms within the EU, coupled with the emphasis on solidarity in the context of border securitization, with grassroots efforts in several Polish cities to welcome migrants and refugees and facilitate their integration. We also look at the emerging initiatives to raise resources to help refugees lingering in refugee camps and transit countries. And finally, we ask the question whether fragmented, organically evolving, grass-root solidarities are sustainable without the support of the national government.
In April 2016, commenting on the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe, Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General at the time, said: “We are facing the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Above all, this is not just a crisis of numbers; it is also a crisis of solidarity. (…) We must respond to a monumental crisis with monumental solidarity” (United Nations, 2016).
Unfortunately, most European states did not respond with “monumental solidarity.” Undoubtedly, attempts to solidarize with refugees and respond to the “crisis” occurred even before Ban Ki-moon pled with governments to show solidarity with refugees. On August 31, 2015, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, remarked: “Wir haben so vieles geschafft—wir schaffen das” (We have managed so many things—we can do this) (Merkel, 2015, cited in Delcker, 2016). Two years earlier, in 2013, the Italian government launched the rescue-at-sea program Mare Nostrum. The death of over 400 refugees resulting from two major shipwrecks prompted the Italians to act (Castelli Gattinara, 2017). However, as Ferrucio Pastore wrote, Mare Nostrum was a “technical success but a political failure” (Pastore, 2017, 31). Many “saw the program as indirectly encouraging and even facilitating migration” (Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019, 7–8). In the end, states have not implemented any viable or sustainable solutions to better manage migration of refugees seeking safe haven in Europe. On the contrary, in the recent attempt to curtail arrival of refugees in Greece, the country plans to build floating fences in the Aegean Sea in order to prevent refugees and migrants to arrive from Turkey. The Greek Armed Forces will execute this plan (Euronews., 2020).
In the absence of an appropriate response from national governments, new forms of solidarity emerged. The Refugees Welcome movement, a collective action of civil societies in several European countries, is one example. The movement aimed at raising awareness about refugees' plight, collecting donations to provide material assistance to forced migrants, and demonstrating against anti-immigrant policies (Koca, 2016; Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019). Individuals and informal groups began to volunteer in refugee camps, often calling themselves solidarians and labeling their activities as “doing solidarity” (Serntedakis, 2017, 88). In many places, this movement has created what Routledge (2003) calls “convergence spaces.” Convergence spaces comprise diverse grassroots social movements, characterized by collective visions, in order to generate common politics of solidarity.
The solidarity movement has been very visible and active in some European countries and rejected in others. In this article, we focus on Poland. We juxtapose the Polish government's call for “flexible solidarity”–framed as an ability to decide on specific forms of contribution to the “refugee crisis” solution—with grassroots efforts undertaken by different solidarians in several local communities to welcome migrants and refugees and facilitate their integration. However, we refrain from a broader discussion of nationalist and xenophobic sentiments in Poland. These topics have been covered by many authors (e.g., Wrzosek, 2016; Adamczyk, 2017; Pędziwiatr, 2017; Goździak and Márton, 2018; Klaus et al., 2018) and it is not our intention to regurgitate these analyses. We look at the historical antecedents of Polish solidarity and trace them to the Solidarność labor movement and its subsequent rapture to understand contemporary manifestations of solidarity with refugees and migrants in Poland and emerging initiatives to solidarize with refugees lingering in camps and transit countries. We analyze the types of solidarity Polish solidarians perform and the characteristics defining these actions. And finally, we ask the question whether fragmented, organically evolving, grass-root solidarities are sustainable without the support of the national government.
We begin this article with a brief discussion of the data, methodology, and concepts used in this study. In the subsequent sections, we focus on the “different ways of practicing, organizing, and articulating solidarity” (Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019, 23). The empirical part of our article begins with the discussion of “flexible solidarity” promulgated by the Polish government and its contestation by several city mayors. We follow with brief observations about the roots and subsequent rapture of the Solidarność labor union movement to provide the reader with a historical framework to better understand how contemporary solidarians practice solidarity. In the analytical part of the article we focus on different types of solidarians operating in Poland, both those who directly continue the ideal of solidarity introduced by the Solidarność labor movement and those who have departed from that ideal but nevertheless exhibit a range of solidarities. The article ends with comments about types of solidarity within which Polish solidarians operate as well as questions about how to scale up solidarity with refugees in Poland.
Data, Methodology, and Ethical Concerns
This study forms part of a much larger interdisciplinary research on norms and values in the context of the “refugee crisis.” In this article, we base our discussion on in-depth ethnographic interviews with representatives of several civil society initiatives aimed at providing assistance to refugees and migrants in Poland, especially in Gdańsk, Szczecin, Warsaw, Kraków, and Poznań. The majority of the interviews were conducted in Polish, but on occasion we also used Russian and English to communicate with our interlocutors. The field research was carried out between 2017 and 2019. In total, we interviewed 30 solidarians, in some instances more than once. It is also worthwhile mentioning that we have known and collaborated with some of our interlocutors and gathered information during informal conversations or discussions related to joint initiatives. The solidarians representing civil society were mostly young highly educated women and men, between the ages of 25 and 45, living and operating in medium and large Polish cities. This group also included several refugees and immigrants. Representatives of municipal governments were slightly older, between 30 and 55 years of age. Women prevailed both among solidarians and government officials. We transcribed all interviews and analyzed the resulting texts to elicit themes related to solidarity. We translated interview and blog posts quotes into English ourselves.
In addition to interviews and informal conversations with activists, we conducted participant observation of fund-raising events (garage sales), awareness raising programs, presentations of findings stemming from fact-finding missions, demonstrations showing solidarity with refugees and migrants, educational activities, artistic endeavors, and theater performances about and with migrants and refugees. As engaged anthropologists (Ortner, 2019) and scholar-activists (Routledge and Driscoll Derickson, 2015), affiliated both with the Center for Migration Studies (CeBaM) and with the Migration Info Point (MIP), a program providing assistance to migrants in Poznań, we align our academic work with our political and moral stances in order to critically engage with important issues of our times. Having taken that “engaged turn” we have been privileged to organize many events and trainings aimed at informing different individuals and groups—students, teachers, employers, community leaders—about migration and migrants. Our engagement with refugees and those solidarizing with them allowed us to practice what Nagar and Geiger (2007) call “situated solidarities.” Blueprints and notes from these activities are part of the data informing this article.
Additionally, many Polish solidarians active in the country and abroad are very visible in mass media, including social media. They have granted numerous interviews to journalists. Some blog about their activities and maintain a robust presence on Facebook. We have analyzed these interviews, blog posts, videos, and stories posted on Facebook and used them to inform this article.
We used narrative analysis to identify themes related to the concept and practice of solidarity. “Narrative inquiry is a form of qualitative research that takes story as either its raw data or its product” (Bleakley, 2005, 534). Narrative methods have a long tradition in many fields (Eastmond, 2007). In international migration studies, narratives often provide researchers with the only means of learning something about lives in time and places to which they have little other access. In this study, narratives were also useful for what they could tell us about how refugees experienced forced migration. Personal accounts also allowed us to glean the diversity of actions undertaken by different solidarians, both refugees and Polish citizens. Narrative analysis as used in qualitative research is grounded in the assumption that meaning is ascribed to phenomena by being experienced and that we can only know something about people's experiences from the expression they give them (Schütz, 1972). In other words, experience gives rise and form to narratives, but it is also organized and given meaning in the telling. Thus, analytically, we were able to distinguish between solidarity as lived, the events in solidarians' lives; solidarity as experienced, how solidarians perceive and ascribe meaning to their own actions; and solidarity as told, how the experience of solidarity is framed and articulated in a particular context and to a particular audience (Bruner, 2004); and solidarity as text, the researchers' interpretation and representation of the story (Eastmond, 2007).
Finally, a few words about ethical challenges in conducting this research. Conducting research with human subjects, researchers have an obligation to maintain anonymity and confidentiality. It is difficult to maintain anonymity of the involved activists because their actions are easily recognizable. Moreover, some insisted on being named in our writings since they want their actions and ideals to be widely shared. Despite the fact that we often played multiple roles—researchers, participant observers, organizers, and supporters of pro-migration events—we adhere to the principle of anthropological research and analysis and distinguish the emic (or insiders') perspectives from the etic (or outsiders') interpretation of the gathered data.
Concepts and Frameworks
Much has been written about the concepts of solidarity. It is not our intention to provide a comprehensive review of theoretical literature on solidarity; others have done it masterfully (see Bauder and Juffs, 2020 for an analysis of the concept in migration and refugee literature). In this article, we are mainly concerned with solidarity as a value that underpins actions undertaken by different solidarians working with and on behalf of refugees (see Cantat et al., 2018). We are also interested in solidarity conceptualized as movements that shape a new kind of cosmopolitanism, namely cosmopolitanism from below (Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019). Our research shows that urban centers are places where inclusive communities are created to welcome refugees and where solidarity with refugees bonds activists against the hostility of national governments toward newcomers. Most importantly, we are interested in solidarity as debated in the context of the “refugee crisis” (e.g., Rygiel, 2011; Agustín and Jørgensen, 2016, 2019; King, 2016). Finally, we have also been inspired by anthropological analyses of solidarity (e.g., Lem, 2008; Rakopoulos, 2016; Theodossopoulos, 2016).
Although solidarity as a value continues to be present in public debates, “its meaning is not very clear and depends on the discussant's intentions” (Petelczyc, 2018, 129). The principle of solidarity is also often contested (Koca, 2018; Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019). The interviewed civil society members rarely, if at all, used the word “solidarity” while narrating their involvement with refugees and migrants. The activists affiliated with the European Solidarity Center in Gdańsk were the exception to the rule. Given the fact that Gdańsk was the birthplace of the Solidarność labor movement, the ideal of solidarity continues to thrive in the city. Others, however, spoke about their desire to support refugees and the need to be hospitable. Keeping in mind that the concept of “solidarity” often overlaps with “philanthropy” and “humanitarian relief” (Rakopoulos, 2014), the founder of the Polish Migration Forum spoke about her staff being motivated by humanitarianism, a deep belief in the universality of human rights, desire to provide assistance to the needy, respect for all human beings, and the necessity to protect the dignity of all refugees and migrants. She said:
My team undoubtedly shares the perspective that our motivations stem from humanitarianism, from our convictions that human rights are universal. We deeply believe that we have to care for those coming to Poland. Personally, I am motivated by my religion. I believe that refugees and migrants deserve respect. I am convinced that every human being no matter where they come from has inborn dignity. My team includes young women who are atheists, but they share my convictions although mine are born out of my religious beliefs and theirs are rooted in their secular ideology. I also have a lawyer on my team and he believes that under the law everybody is equal, migrants as well.
All of these motivations certainly constitute elements of solidarity even when the term is not used to label the situation. We will use the concept of solidarity to frame our discussion of actors standing in solidarity with refugees and migrants and actions undertaken to support them. We understand solidarity as practices that expand the sense of community, move beyond borders, and are produced mainly at the local level (see Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019).
We use the etic term “solidarians” to discuss the different actors involved in providing support to migrants and refugees in Poland and beyond. As Rozakou (2018) observed, the word “solidarian” is a neologism. An interesting grammatical–ontological shift that has occurred in Greece when the adjective solidarian (alliléggios) has become a noun signifying a person (not just the action) who is in solidarity with somebody else. Rozakou argues that this grammatical modification denotes the radicalization of solidarity in the social spaces where it is being practiced.
In Greece where the term originated, the word solidarians is used to differentiate between activists involved in helping refugees arriving in the country during the summers of 2015 and 2016 and professional NGO workers who also became key actors in the humanitarian relief efforts. According to Oikonomakis (2018), the activists involved in the Refugee Solidarity Movement hail from two groups: the older actors, who have been part of the Greek antiracist movement for years and the new groups that were formed in response to the 2015–2016 “refugee crisis.” Arundhati Roy makes a similar argument when she talks about the NGOization of resistance (Roy, 2014). Many solidarians do not define their activities in terms of “service” to “beneficiaries” the way NGO workers do. Rather, they promote and adhere to the principles of egalitarian and empowering relatedness. They talk about “sociality as a rehumanizing process” (Rozakou, 2016, 194).
In this article, we expand the term “solidarians” to encompass all civil society actors that stand in solidarity with refugees and migrants in Poland and abroad. We argue that the term is apt to describe the situation in Poland, because Polish pro-refugee and pro-migration solidarians mobilized mainly outside formal institutions (Narkowicz, 2018). Many grassroots initiatives started in 2015 in response to the refugee crisis as part of a wider phenomenon of growing political divisions in the Polish society. Contrary to some Western assessments of civil society in post-Communist states as weak (Howard, 2002), these initiatives speak to the growing support for refugees and migrants among different segments of the Polish society. Similarly to developments elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, the dynamic growth of local pro-migration civil society organizations occurred in no small part due to foreign public and private financial support (Ekiert et al., 2017). Galia Chimiak saw the development of Polish non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their strengths as “the continuing legacy of the Solidarity movement, the Polish aid professionals' hands-on experience with transformation and cooperation with foreign funders (…), and the ensuing credibility of Polish NGO activists” (Chimiak, 2018). It is worth noting that the expansion of progressive civil society organizations is coupled with a rapid growth of illiberal nationalist groups, reinforced by the “migration crisis” (Ekiert et al., 2017).
Migration research on solidarity with migrants focuses “not on immigrants and refugees themselves, but on the solidarians and the materialization of solidarity in everyday life, especially in a time of severe measures against irregular immigration” (Rozakou, 2018, 189). Rozakou argues that focusing on solidarians whom she also describes as “solidarity socialites” (Rozakou, 2016) allows her to emphasize lateral and anti-hierarchical relatedness and contrast it with both hospitality and bureaucratic frameworks of assistance to refugees and immigrants (Rozakou, 2018). This might indeed be the case. However, we feel that excluding refugees and immigrants from solidarians reproduces alterity and conjures the ubiquitous dichotomy of “them” and “us.” Therefore, we consider refugees and migrants spearheading different initiatives with and on behalf of other migrants as solidarians.
Flexible Solidarity and Its Contestations
Different forms of solidarity have been put forth by the European Union. The EU refugee relocation scheme attempted to institutionalize solidarity between EU member states. This understanding of solidarity drew on an idea of political solidarity (Wallaschek, 2017). Poland contested this principle of solidarity. At an EU summit in Brussels, former Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said: “Our solidarity primarily rests upon strongly supporting Frontex. We will send our border police officers” (quoted in Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019, 27). In practical terms this conceptualization of solidarity excluded refugees and focused instead on securitization of borders. Polish politicians manipulated the concept of solidarity even further. At an informal meeting in Bratislava on September 16, 2017, the leaders of the Visegrád Four (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic) issued a joint statement emphasizing that migration policy should be based on the principle of “flexible solidarity.” The Visegrád statement suggested that member states ought be able to contribute to the refugee relocation program in various forms and express their “flexible” and “voluntary” solidarity with the ongoing “refugee crisis” (Ardittis, 2016; see also Płomecka and Stankiewicz, 2016). The government argued that to settle the refugee crisis, the international community ought to provide humanitarian aid in the countries of crisis. The government continues to declare solidarity with refugees, but the proposed efforts always focus on “solidarity abroad.” In 2018, on the Day of Solidarity with Refugees, the government-supported newspaper, Rzeczpospolita, published an article about the situation in Syria and the need to support refugees in Lebanon and Uganda by providing medical assistance, temporary housing, and education (Malinowski, 2018). This concept of solidarity assumed provision of financial resources, deployment of border patrol officers to defend external borders, but stopped short of agreements to host refugees within the borders of Poland.
In Poland, the number of refugees is very small. Between 1991, the year Poland signed the 1956 Refugee Convention, and 2016, some 140,000 individuals applied for refugee status in Poland. However, only 4,875 received refugee status and about 18,000 received the so-called “tolerated stay” or “subsidiary protection” (Górny et al., 2017). Despite the small number of refugees, Poland does not want to accept any additional asylum seekers. When it comes to solidarity with migrants, the government focuses mainly on solidarity with the Polish diaspora in the successor states of the former Soviet Union and supports programs to “bring them home.” As a consequence of Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004 and the introduction of the Schengen agreement, members of the Polish minority in countries such as Ukraine and Belarus found themselves separated from their kin-state by the Schengen border. In 2007, Poland passed the Act on the Karta Polaka (literally, Pole's Card) according ethnic Poles living in the former USSR certain rights and privileges, including a right to repatriate to Poland (Sendhardt, 2017). This policy corresponds with the primordial concept of identity and belonging asserting that everybody who can trace their ancestry to Poland is Polish (Galent and Kubicki, 2011). Between 1997 and 2014, 7,000 persons of Polish ancestry settled in Poland (Sakson, 2016, 206). The number has increased in recent years; between 2016 and 2018, additional 2,000 persons arrived in Poland (Kozubal, 2019). Recently, the Polish government made several amendments to the repatriation law. In 2017, it fast-tracked the repatriation process to express ideological support of welcoming migration of ethnic Poles.
Since 2007, Poland has had a very liberal labor migration legislation (Klaus, 2020). In 2018, almost two-thirds of all non-EU nationals holding residency permits were Ukrainian citizens. Many more Ukrainians were working in Poland under a visa regime—with different estimates identifying as many as 1.5 million Ukrainians in Poland in 2018 (Górny et al., 2017). These laws and policies privilege solidarity with “people like us,” while excluding refugees and asylum seekers (the Others) who could not claim Polish ancestry or connections to a pan-Slavic identity.
These examples illustrate the fact that “solidarity is itself a battlefield concerning which type of solidarity should prevail and how, constituting the possibility of articulating and imagining alternatives” (Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019, 28). In Poland, even municipal governments contest the notion of “flexible solidarity” put forth by the national government. In 2017, mayors of 12 Polish cities signed a declaration pronouncing the cities they govern open to refugees and migrants. The declaration emphasized the mayors' willingness to partner with the national government, non-governmental, and faith-based organizations to create safe migration policy (Deklaracja, 2017).
The declaration was not merely a symbolic gesture. In many instances, the municipal governments funded initiatives aimed at facilitating immigrant integration. The mayor's office in Gdańsk has collaborated with the Council of Immigrants since 2016 to create a blueprint for immigrant integration in the city. It is the first effort of this sort that culminated in a document called Model of Immigrant Integration. It is based on the idea that all institutions—from education and culture to labor and health—should actively incorporate migrants and refugees in their activities. In Poznań, the city council is financially supporting the Migrant Info Point (MIP), a program established in 2013 as part of an EU-sponsored project on immigrant labor force integration. Since 2015, MIP relies to a large extent on funding from the city. In 2016, the City Council of Kraków passed an “Open Kraków” resolution to combat racism and xenophobia. These are very important and needy initiatives focusing on inclusion of refugees and immigrants into the wider Polish society. These initiatives correspond with the concept of anchored solidarity, closely tied to community (wspólnota), promoted by Tischner (2018). They also align with the understanding of solidarity that “must expand the sense of community (and not restrict it to preexisting “chosen” ones)” as articulated by Agustín and Jørgensen (2019, 25).
Some mayors in Poland openly expressed support for refugees on several occasions. On July 18, 2015 the Mayor of Poznań, Jacek Jaśkowiak joined a pro-refugee manifestation “In Solidarity with migrants” (Solidarni z migrantami) organized by a group of Poznań activists, including artists, academics, and anarchists. This gesture of support from the city mayor showed his understanding of what it means to be an open city. The organizers invoked the value of solidarity not just in the title of the manifestation, but also in various speeches and slogans: “We need to offer solidarity to people in need,” “Poznań should be for all, Poland should be for all.” The last slogan directly undermined a popular statement of the right-wing radical movements: “Poland for Poles” (Nyczka and Zytnicki, 2015).
Contemporary Polish solidarians hail from different walks of life. Some work in long-established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have been supporting integration of immigrants and refugees for a decade or longer, others belong to ad hoc informal groups formed in the midst of the current “refugee crisis,” many are volunteers, but some are compensated for their work. Their actions are rooted in different ideologies. In order to understand the contemporary solidarity landscape in Poland, we need to recognize its historical antecedents. In the next section, we turn our attention to the Solidarność labor movement and its rapture.
The Roots and Rapture of Solidarność
The Solidarność labor movement had its roots in the worker unrests of December 1970 in Poland's northern cities. However, the movement that emerged in the summer of 1980 was not only larger, but it drew from all segments of the Polish society. Members of the intelligentsia showed solidarity with workers. Faculty members organized “solidarizing strikes” (strajki solidarnościowe) to show solidarity with students. When martial law was declared and many Solidarity activists were interned, Poles solidarized with their families and organized material support for the families of the interned.
The ideal of solidarity that underpinned the movement was deeply rooted in philosophy and religion, especially in the writings and sermons of Józef Tischner, a notable Polish philosopher and theologian. Fr. Tischner promoted two complementary concepts of solidarity: anchored solidarity and solidarity of conscience. Following the philosopher Charles Taylor, Tischner talked about anchored solidarity or solidarity based on the already existing ties and values Poles cherish: freedom, independence, and human dignity. Tischner referred to the Gospel to define anchored solidarity. He recalled the words of Christ who told his followers to “carry each other's burdens” and to the parable of the Merciful Samaritan (Tischner, 2018). Tischner pointed out that the Merciful Samaritan "lives in a specific society, in a world of specific religion and politics. Nevertheless, his deed is somewhat outside of this world—outside the structures that the world has imposed on people. The good deed of the Merciful Samaritan is a response to the concrete cry of a particular man. It's simple: someone is calling for help” (Tischner, 2018, 19). Tischner attached great importance to the ethics of solidarity. He did not think that being “together,” saying “we” constitute solidarity. In his view, the deepest solidarity is the solidarity of conscience (Tischner, 2018).
The ideal of solidarity, discussed by Fr. Tichner, has not been continued by contemporary public intellectuals. As Jan Kubik observes: “Since 1989, remarkably little intellectual energy has been invested in the development of the principle of Solidarity, that enormously successful master frame of the movement that helped to bring down state socialism” (Kubik, 2015).
The treatise by Cirtautas (1997) and the writings of Wesołowski and Gawkowska (2004, 2006) are rare exceptions. Arista Cirtautas links the ideals underpinning Polish dissident movements, especially Solidarity, to the philosophical tradition of natural rights and to the Renaissance ideals of human dignity. Wesołowski and Gawkowska (2004), on the other hand, show the embeddedness of the values animating Polish dissidence in several trends of the Polish social and political philosophy dating back to the nineteenth century. The authors refer to Polish nationalism, born as a political nationalism, not an ethno-linguistic one (Walicki et al., 2000). They also invoke communitarian motives understood as “personal freedom, choice of individual plan for life and flourishing of a human being as well as with the concern for one's community embeddedness and obligations (be it one's family, neighborhood, local community, region, religion or nation)” (Wesołowski and Gawkowska, 2004, 16).
There is no doubt that the Solidarity labor movement abolished the socialist state in Poland, yet the Polish elites and the population at large have not formulated a broadly accepted assessment of the 1989 political transformation. Jan Kubik contends that in Poland the principle of solidarity has not been promoted beyond a group of devoted aficionados in any sustained fashion, because of
the inability of the Polish elites and the population at large to formulate once and for all a clear and broadly accepted interpretation of the movement's history, its heroes, and its most significant successes. Most importantly, as of 2014, there has been no agreement on how to remember the Round Table Agreements (arguably the movement's most spectacular political success) and whether and how to celebrate its leader, Lech Wałesa (Kubik, 2015).
As a result of these ambiguities as well as democratic opportunities to establish new labor unions, associations, and political parties, the Solidarity labor movement has eroded and it is currently quite weak. Those who continue to promote the ideal of solidarity include the European Solidarity Center (ESC) in Gdańsk and a research collective at the Collegium Civitas in Warsaw. Both institutions publish interesting studies and documentary evidence. Below we discuss the European Solidarity Center's activities, with a particular emphasis on activities and events aimed at promoting solidarity with refugees and immigrants, to highlight the historical roots of the center and its new offshoots.
The Legacy of Solidarnosc: The European Solidarity Center In GDAŃSK
The ideal of solidarity rooted in the values underpinning the Solidarność labor movement continues to be promoted by the European Solidarity Center (ESC), which opened its doors in 2014. Paweł Adamowicz, the Mayor of Gdańsk, tragically assassinated in January 2019, initiated the creation of ESC. Many individuals and organizations, including Lech Wałȩsa and the Institute that bears his name, Tadeusz Gocłowski, the Archbishop of Gdańsk, the Solidarity Trade Union, Gdańsk Shipyard, and the government of the Pomorskie Voivodship supported the initiative. The support coming from politically diverse groups was unprecedented. We do not know of any other efforts that received similar patronage.
Adhering to the Center's mission to commemorate and popularize the heritage of the Solidarity movement, the building centers around a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of Solidarity and the anti-communist opposition, which led to the democratic transformation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. But the exhibition forms but a small part of the Center's daily function. The building features a library, reading rooms and archives which are accessible to researchers and any interested readers alike. The conference rooms and other spaces, such as the winter garden on the ground floor, host debates and concerts, and serve projects of both the ESC and outside associations aimed at working toward the common good.
In a recent interview, Basil Kerski, the director of the ESC, said: “The current government criticizes some cultural institutions, because they are uncomfortable, because they ask important questions about our future, about the quality of public life, about the condition of our democracy.” He wondered: “What is solidarity today? With whom should we solidarize? Why? Where will we end up without solidarity? We talk about solidarity with our neighbors, with migrants, with marginalized social groups that are not represented by the [ruling] majority” (Wieliński, 2019).
Every year, the ESC organizes a lecture on The Ethics of Solidarity to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Solidarność in August 1980. Distinguished public figures from Poland and abroad speak at the event. In 2019, keynote speakers included Szymon Hołownia, journalist and humanitarian, Dominika Kozłowska, philosopher and editor-in-chief of the monthly journal “Znak,” Professor Cezary Obracht-Prondzyński, historian, sociologist, and anthropologist at the University of Gdańsk. Introducing the panelists, Basil Kerski invited them to reflect on the concepts of solidarity, common good, and civil society. “Six months after the tragic death of Paweł Adamowicz, we want to reflect on the meaning of community (wspólnota),” he added.
The ESC team believes that refugees and immigrants are an integral part of the Polish community. Several initiatives—including Solidarity here and now, Solidarity Everyday—offered volunteers from Gdańsk and other European cities (Berlin, Moscow, Belgrade, and Prague) an opportunity to exchange ideas and practical experiences on how to assist refugees and migrants in their integration processes. The Center sees itself very much as a facilitator of migrant integration and these kinds of exchanges go a long way toward enhancing the staff's skills and empowering migrants to speak up about their needs.
The ESC's educational programs aim not only at teaching broad audiences about the history and heritage of the Solidarity labor movement, but also at bringing together migrants and local residents, both youth and adults, to discuss migration issues, debate ways to overcome stereotypes and prejudices, and have fun together. The ECS staff facetiously announced on its Facebook page that “in 2019, 13,379 people participated in 1,316 events, and consumed 60 kilos of coffee.”
The European Solidarity Center is not the only entity that stands in solidarity with migrants and refugees in Poland. As will be seen in the subsequent section, there are other civil society organizations, informal networks, and groups of concerned individuals who stand in solidarity with newcomers. There are also refugees and migrants actively involved in acts of solidarity.
Polish Solidarians: Diversity of Action
At the outset of this article, we defined solidarity as practices that connect different places, move beyond borders, expand the sense of community and are produced from below (Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019, 25). This definition encompasses different types of solidarity practiced by diverse groups of solidarians representing different ideologies and motivations.
The Solidarność labor movement was deeply steeped in Polish Catholicism. The influence of Catholic social teaching constituted an important part of its official program (Brzechczyn, 2011). However, during the ongoing “refugee crisis” the Catholic Church in Poland blatantly disregarded Pope Francis' call to solidarize with refugees. In an official response, the Polish Episcopate pushed the responsibility to help asylum seekers onto the Polish government. Some clergy opposed the admission of refugees more directly and forcefully. Archbishop Hoser stressed that Muslim refugees would face insurmountable challenges in understanding and accepting Christian values and therefore would not be able to integrate into Polish society. Archbishop Hoser clearly represents a conservative stance and thinks that isolating both religions is a preferred alternative to finding creative solution to ensure peaceful co-existence of Islam and Catholicism. Deacon Jacek Jan Pawłowicz goes further. On his Facebook page, he regularly posts hostile, often vulgar, sentiments insulting Islam and Arab refugees. While some Polish media outlets criticized Deacon Pawłowicz, the Episcopate has not initiated any investigation into his hate speech (Goździak and Márton, 2018). The position of the bishops as well as younger radical priests led to the significant rise of Islamophobic sentiments that have moved from the margins of society to the mainstream (Pędziwiatr, 2018).
On the other hand, the metropolitan of Wrocław, Archbishop Józef Kupny, has tweeted his support of Muslim refugees: “We must not shut the doors to our brothers and sisters only because they believe differently than we do.” Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, from the more liberal wing of the Church, told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper that accepting a few 100 asylum seekers isn't much of a problem for a country of 38 million. “Not accepting refugees practically means resigning from being a Christian,” he said. “I'm ashamed of those who don't want to do their duty not just as Christians but as human beings.” Archbishop Wojciech Polak, standing at an outdoor pulpit at the Jasna Góra shrine in the city of Częstochowa, delivered a message of compassion to the president and prime minister seated before him: “We must be open and compassionate and ready to help those most needy, weak and persecuted, migrants and refugees” (Scislowka, 2017).
Some Polish Catholics had difficulty accepting the lack of solidarity with refugees on the part of Polish clergy. They decided to act, because they thought that the “Church should provide a space for an honest discussion [about refugees], a debate to reject hysterical reactions and absurd commentaries, an intelligent discourse.” Saint'Egidio, Refugee.pl, the Polish Migration Forum, the Catholic Intelligentsia Clubs established Communities of Refuge (Wspólnoty Schronienia), educational programs for parishes, congregations, faith groups to provide a forum to discuss the plight of refugees and to diminish the fear of refugees in the Polish society. The clergy did not receive the initiative with enthusiasm. Still, the organizers persevered and enjoyed some level of success. An open debate on migration took place during a prestigious religious congress in Gniezno; several workshops were organized in different parishes across Poland and in five Catholic seminaries. The Bishop of Koszalin asked the leaders of the initiative to print additional materials about refugees and ways to support them and distributed the information to all bishops in Poland.
Communities of Refuge notwithstanding, most Polish solidarians are secular. They include legal experts assisting migrants with immigration status adjustment, work and residency permits, social service providers, and Polish language trainers. Many solidarians also aim to bring about change in societal attitudes toward the other: refugees, migrants, ethnic and religious minorities. Some are very visible in the streets organizing rallies and manifestations, others work quietly in offices and schools. Despite the diversity of activities, they main focus is solidarity with refugees and migrants and contestation of government anti-immigration discourses. They build alliances with diverse social actors, collaborate with several different groups, and use social media to stay in touch with each other and with the general public. Below we feature a few different groups of solidarians to give the reader a glimpse at the diversity of Polish solidarians.
Refugee Crisis as a Moment of Change
The literature on solidarity with refugees often identifies the 2015 “refugee crisis” as a turning point for the solidarity movement in Europe (see also Della Porta, 2018; Agustín and Jørgensen, 2019). In Poland, one of the leaders of the Polish Migration Forum (PMF) discussed how the 2015 anti-refugee campaign radically changed the situation in Poland and affected her own organization. Many NGOs lost funding and both programs and refugees were threatened. She said:
People felt threatened. We were working with a group of asylum seekers from Chechnya. These were vailed Muslim women. In our counseling program, we had women whose hijab was ripped off of their head, who were spat on. Immigrants who lived in Poland for 20 years said they never experienced such treatment.
Prior to 2015, working with refugees was thought of as a niche service of no consequence to the general public, she told us. Her own acquaintances thought her work with foreigners was an “exotic whim, a fantasy.” Now it became a necessity.
PMF was created in 2007 to promote migrants' rights in Poland and to establish cross-cultural dialogue. Its current activities span a wide range of offerings both for the foreign-born living in Poland (psychological services, legal aid, job placement) and for professionals working with immigrants (training programs for teachers, psychologists, and government officials). PFM organizes childbirth schools for immigrant women and support groups for migrant mothers. The foundation employs both Poles and migrants. It also trains volunteers.
The “refugee crisis” resulted in hate mail and attacks on the organization as well as interference from the Polish government regarding external EU and EEA funds. The PMF leader said:
We got a lot of hate mail. We reported one incident that was way out of line to the police. The police replied that the author of the hate mail simply expressed their disapproval of our activities and such expression is not punishable by law. (…) This change of the official discourse combined with lack of money made two members of my team leave the organization. They just could not cope with the political schism in their own families and communities.
PFM is a registered, highly professionalized, NGO relying both on employed and volunteer staff. Refugees Szczecin, on the other hand, is a small group of solidarians which also sprang into action in 2015. They wanted to increase “public awareness of refugee issues, (…) work together for openness and empathy, and against hatred.” They described their actions as a protest “against the wave of aggression and false information about refugees.”
Refugees Szczecin includes a small group of professionals using their leisure time to read and learn about refugees, organize workshops, debates, and fundraisers. They reach out to schools and local libraries in Szczecin and vicinity. As one of the activists narrated, the motivation to act was a “desire to share reliable information, to break stereotypes, to show the humanity of refugees, because in that time [during the crisis] we forgot that refugees are people who suffer, who search for safe haven, people who experience serious dilemmas upon leaving their homes, people who make very serious decisions.”
Nothing About Us, Without Us: Solidarizing With Fellow Refugees and Migrants
Gdańsk, with a population of around 460,000, is home to some 25,000 migrants and refugees, mostly coming from Ukraine and Chechnya, but there are also refugees from Rwanda and Syria (Womack, 2018). The Immigrant Advisory Council (Rada Imigrantów i Imigrantek) created by the late Mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, has 13 migrant representatives, including two refugees, and keeps the municipal government abreast of refugee concerns. One of the refugee women on the council is Khedi Alieva. She started a foundation called Kobiety Wędrowne (Women on the Move) and tries to facilitate integration of immigrant and refugee women in Gdańsk and vicinity. When interviewed about her activities, Khedi Alieva talked enthusiastically about the importance of the council for migrants and refugees in Gdańsk and the close relationships immigrants developed with the municipal government. However, Khedi Alieva wistfully talked about the need to expand the membership of the council to include Poles. She thought it would be beneficial in order to improve relationships between immigrants and members of the host society. Khedi Alieva also thought the Polish members could provide practical advice on how to navigate different bureaucratic systems.
Khedi Alieva regularly addresses city-sponsored conferences and public debates on women, feminism, and dress in Islam. When a group of young men ripped off her headscarf and shouted “Allah is a bomber!,” she responded with a smile: “The only solution is to smile; that's how I handle it,” she said. More recently, she sewed a rainbow flag and participated in the Pride Parade (Parada Równości) to solidarize with the LGBTQ community. When asked why she marched in the Pride Parade, Khedi Alieva said: “Well, they are normal people like us. And those who are tortured and persecuted—like refugees. I want to be with such people, I support them. I will not let it go.” As we write this paper she and her sister are sewing masks for healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.
Researchers sometimes suggest that solidarity is being imposed on refugees and immigrants (Rozakou, 2018). Perhaps it does happen on occasion, but Khedi Alieva is a solidarian whose bottom-up activities emanate from within the refugee and migrant network in which she operates. We anticipate that as time goes on more immigrants will get involved. As Carol Liliana Lopez, the Chairwoman of the Immigrant Advisory Council in Gdańsk said:
My personal ambition is to encourage immigrant women to participate in the public life. I would like them to realize that beyond the legalization of their residence and the incorporation into the labor market, we – the women of Gdańsk – can be free, strong, innovative, capable, resilient and we can continue with our social and personal development (Fedas, 2017).
Ms. Lopez's sentiments are commensurate with the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees that calls for refugees' participation in policy-making and program design. The Compact calls for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to co-host, along with one or more member states, a Global Refugee Forum every four years. The first Global Refugee Forum was held in December 2019 in Geneva. In a recent tweet, Jeff Crisp reminded us that UNHCR committed itself to the principle of refugee participation in its mission statement in the 1990s. As early as 1986, Robert Mazur wrote about the need to involve refugees into assistance and development projects. A year later, Clark (1987) wrote a paper for the Refugee Policy Group emphasizing the need to empower refugees to decide whether and how they want to participate in decision-making processes to avoid a top-down, paternalistic approach to refugee matters (Goździak and Main, 2019).
Anarchists: Contestation and Collaboration
Similarly to Greece (Rozakou, 2018), Polish solidarians working on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees also have connections to anarchist ideologies dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. Polish anarchists work on a wide range of issues, including economic disparities, prevention of homelessness, and identity policy. Support for asylum seekers is the latest addition on their agenda. In Poznań, anarchists co-organized several protests against fascism and prejudice toward people of color, people of different faiths or sexual orientation. Norman Nawrocki, a Montreal-based cabaret actor and educator, recalled his conversations with a group of anarchists in Poznań:
Anarchism is very different from nationalism. We anarchists fight against the exclusion of minorities, against evictions, against violence against migrants and women, repression and deportations. We fight for the possibility of crossing borders, for higher wages, better working conditions and self-organization of workers across borders (Nawrocki, 2018).
The anarchists in Poznań are very well-organized and active in diverse communities and constantly networking. During “the refugee crisis,” they traveled to Greece and Spain to support anarchists working on behalf of refugees and migrants in these countries. They are constantly challenging Polish nationalists, fascists, the State, the Catholic Church, and the nouveau riche. They are active in the streets, online, in local neighborhoods, and work places. At the same time, the anarchists in Poznań ally themselves with NGOS, representatives of cultural institutions, faith communities, and even the municipal government. The anarchists collaborated with these institutions on demonstrations in support of refugees and migrants, organized in 2015 and 2016 (rozbrat.org). These alliances were seen as a compromise, necessary in instances where different actors shared similar goals. In other areas, anarchists often contest city policies.
Combating the Fear of the Other
While very few Muslim refugees coming from the Middle East reached the Polish borders in 2015, the migration that was occurring elsewhere in Europe has been greatly politicized, especially by the populist national-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) and other far-right groups. Political candidates expressed openly xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic views, produced anti-immigration posters and participated in demonstrations “against the Islamization of Poland and Europe” (Pędziwiatr, 2015).
A young Catholic couple, Anna and Karol Wilczyński, decided to use their expertise in Arab studies and Islam to share their knowledge with the general public via a blog they named Islamista (i.e., an expert on Islam). They not only have advanced degrees in Arab philosophy (Karol) and Arab studies (Anna) from a prestigious university in Kraków, but they have traveled extensively in the Middle East since 2011 and have a first-hand knowledge about Arab cultures and Islam. They wrote the following about their rationale behind creating the blog:
The project was born out of our desire to share knowledge about and experience with Islam and Muslims. The more political scuffles around Islam, the more wars and tragic events, the more often religions are used for political purposes, the more questions arise about Islam, for which it is difficult to find a reliable answer in the media and the public discourse. The is a place to answer all these questions - ask specialists, recommend valuable sources, promote the culture of dialogue about another religion and culture without hostility or prejudice.
Recently, they also organized many workshops and meetings under a theme of Rethinking Refugees—Knowledge and Action. In a press interview, Karol described this initiative as follows:
(…) we invited refugees from several countries: Chechnya, Syria, and Afghanistan. They delivered lectures, we ate breakfast together, you could talk to them, not necessarily about trauma, but about everyday life. Together with a group of people associated with the blog, we organize cyclical inter-religious meetings. The pretexts for these meetings vary: sometimes we screen a movie, sometimes we help the homeless together, and sometimes we organize a joint prayer (Radłowska, 2018).
Polish solidarians do not operate solely in Poland. In fact, some groups were active outside the borders of Poland in the 1990s. In 1992, Janina Ochojska of the Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) organized the first convoy of humanitarian aid to Sarajevo (Chimiak, 2018). Poles, long-time beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance, were finally able to show their solidarity with war-affected populations. A year later, on October 1, 1993, PAH signed a cooperative agreement with UNHCR and established their Refugee Assistance Center. By the end of the first year of operation, PAH assisted 25 refugee families from the former Yugoslavia (mainly from Bosnia) and the former Soviet Union (mainly from Armenia). In April 2000, PAH launched its first permanent mission in Ingushetia and Chechnya. The mission operated until 2007.
During its 27 years of existence, PAH aided 44 countries, where it built wells, schools, hospitals, and shelters. On their website, PAH refers to solidarity as follows: “Each of our initiatives was accompanied by an all-out commitment and wholehearted support of the Polish people. And this enabled us to achieve our goals, being at the same time proof of true human solidarity going beyond all borders and divisions.” In 2015, PAH ceased its assistance to refugees. The Refugee.pl. Foundation took over support for refugees but in 2019 it also closed its door due to lack of funding.
More recently, several groups of solidarians have undertaken actions, including fund-raising, aimed at increasing awareness about the situation of refugees in camps and transit countries and changing attitudes of the Polish public toward refugees. From Poznań with Love was an initiative spearheaded by two individuals, one of whom volunteered in the Nea Kavala refugee camp in Greece. During December 2016, solidarians affiliated with this initiative collected money and worked with Polish primary school students to write letters to children in the camp. It was estimated that half of the 800 people in the camp were children. The letters were translated to English and Arabic so that children in the camp could read them (Nyczka, 2015). The money was used on the spot to buy groceries to enable refugees to cook their own meals. The action organizers saw it as a way to bring back dignity, to give refugees a chance to make tea whenever they wanted.
Other activists joined From Poznań with Love to organize garage sales to support refugees and civil society organizations in different camps in Greece, Spain, and Yemen and to set up an 'emergency fund' for refugees living in Poland (Main, 2020). The garage sales exemplified humanitarianism abroad and at home. In 2017, the Foundation Światło dla Syrii—Light for Syria organized similar actions in Kraków. Ticktin (2006) argued that humanitarianism (and promulgation of human rights) constituted transnational institutional, practice, and discursive regime constructed around and about the ethical and moral imperative to bring relief to those suffering and to save lives.
And finally, international organizations such as Amnesty International reached out to Polish solidarians to involve them in an international campaign Welcome Refugees. The campaign encouraged people to volunteer, sign petitions, write letters, and offer support for refugees. The response on the part of Polish solidarians was impressive. Groups gathered in Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław, and many other localities. Many Poles are familiar with Amnesty International as it has been present in the country since the 1970s when it defended repressed opposition activists. Membership in Amnesty was seen as another way to challenge the communist regime (Miedema, 2019, 195). Amnesty International continues to have influence in Poland, especially among young people and school children. Thus, its involvement in solidarity with refugees is eagerly emulated.
In 2015 and 2016, Polish solidarians organized a Day of Solidarity with Refugees. In the name of international cooperation and human solidarity, meetings, social actions, artistic activities, workshops, discussions, lectures, exhibitions, happenings, film screenings, and concerts were organized across Poland to inform the Polish society about the situation of refugees in various contexts, to fundraise, and to show solidarity. In 2016, the grassroot organization With Bread and Salt (Chlebem i sola) cooperated with the Batory Foundation, a Polish affiliate of the Soros Foundation. Under a grant from the EEA Funds, With Bread and Salt took over the leadership of the Day of Solidarity with Refugees. One of the events was a demonstration “Warsaw against racism and violence” which called people to come and
express their opposition to the increasing national, racial and religious violence in Poland; to protest against the authorities disregarding this phenomenon and fueling xenophobic sentiments in the media; and to show our solidarity and support to those who felt threatened in Poland (Facebook post).
A Few Concluding Thoughts
Polish solidarians operate in a hostile environment where the national government has polarized the society around the “refugee crisis.” They face situations where the government verbally attacks refugees and prevents asylum seekers from entering Poland to launch asylum claims. At the same time, the government also controls founding for NGOs. However, as our empirical data show, Polish solidarians persevere and exhibit solidarity with refugees and immigrants both in Poland and abroad.
Polish solidarians practice different types of solidarities, embrace varied characteristics of solidarity, and operate in different spaces. While their interests and foci vary, the majority of Polish solidarians practice what Tischner (2018) called anchored solidarity and solidarity of conscience. Anchored solidarity calls for building and expanding inclusive communities, welcoming refugees and immigrants of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds, and abandoning the ubiquitous dichotomy of “us and them.” We see this type of solidarity in activities aimed at inter-faith dialogue such as those promoted by Islamista. We also see it when legal experts contest current migration and asylum policies both in Poland and abroad. We can observe anchored solidarity when refugees and immigrants residing in Poland want to be included in decision-making processes, for example, through participation in the Gdańsk Immigrant Advisory Council. Solidarity of conscience is evident among human rights organizations which emphasize the universality of human rights. It is obvious to these solidarians that refugees and immigrants should enjoy the same rights as those accorded to Polish citizens. They find it unconscionable that refugees and migrants might be deprived of basic human rights. They emphasize the need to recognize the humanity of refugees and asylum seekers and not present them as strangers that would never integrate into the host society.
Polish solidarians engage in what some scholars call “experimental humanitarianism” to “fill gaps in provisioning for refugees, as the state either cannot or will not fulfill its remit” (Thieme et al., 2020, 23). We have showcased both dedicated individuals and well-coordinated civil society actors who build alliances to solidarize with refugees and step in when the government refuses to act. Alliances shape “impossible activism” (Nyers, 2003). Polish solidarians build coalitions with local governments, especially in cities such as Gdańsk, Warsaw, Poznań, and Kraków, where mayors create a welcoming atmosphere for both migrants and solidarians. We observe here a certain paradox: on the one hand, solidarians fulfill the roles usually reserved for the government at the national and local levels, but on the other hand, they oppose the political agenda of the government. Polish solidarians are trapped in the net of dependencies to sustain their existence when values of humanity and solidarity are at stake.
Many of these activities resulted in positive changes. One of the solidarians remarked:
Poles are beginning to recognize that Poland is not a homogenous country, that migrants and refugees are the same kind of people we are, not better or worse, that migrant children should have access to the same education Polish pupils get. But we have still ways to go …. I have heard of clerks refusing to issue a migrant an ID number despite the fact that the woman was eligible. Instead of serving the client, the clerk remarked that people not born in Poland should not live in the country.
However, many question remain: How can these negative attitudes be changed? How to scale up the efforts and impacts of solidarians? Who can make the government to step up to the plate? What is the role of the European Union in promoting and enforcing solidarity with refugees and immigrants in Poland?
Data Availability Statement
The datasets presented in this article are not readily available because the data was elicited through ethnographic interviews and per the Ethics Committee approval is not available to anybody but the two anthropologists who conduced the field research, EG ( email@example.com) and IM ( firstname.lastname@example.org). Requests to access the datasets should be directed to those stated above, the data is not available to outside parties.
The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by Ethics Committee at Adam Mickiewicz University. The participants provided their informed consent to participate in this study.
All authors contributed to this paper in equal measures, conducted empirical research and were involved in drafting the original abstract, and writing the final manuscript.
This article was prepared using funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under grant agreement No. 770330.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Adamczyk, A. (2017). The influx of persons seeking international protection in poland compared to other EU states during the EU migration crisis (2014–2016). Rocznik Integracji Europejskiej 11, 329–341. doi: 10.14746/rie.2017.11.23
Agustín, Ó. G., and Jørgensen, M. B. (2016). “Solidarity without borders: gramscian perspectives on migration and civil society alliances,” in Solidarity Without Borders: Gramscian Perspectives on Migration and Civil Society Alliances, eds Ó. G. Agustín and M. B. Jørgensen (London: Pluto Press), 3–19.
Agustín, Ó. G., and Jørgensen, M. B. (2019). “From refugee crisis to a crisis of solidarity?” in Solidarity and the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Europe, eds Ó. G. Agustín and M. B. Jørgensen (London: Palgrave), 1–22.
Ardittis, S. (2016). Flexible Solidarity: Rethinking the EU's Refugee Relocation System After Bratislava. Available online at: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2016/09/21/rethinking-refugee-system-after-bratislava/ (accessed May 10, 2020).
Cantat, C. (2018). The Politics of Refugee Solidarity in Greece: Bordered Identities and Political Mobilization. CEU Center for Policy Studies Working Paper 1, 1–23. Available online at: https://cps.ceu.edu/sites/cps.ceu.edu/files/attachment/publication/2986/cps-working-paper-migsol-d3.1-2018.pdf (accessed July 30, 2020).
Chimiak, G. (2018). The International Development Civil Society Sector in Poland: from Beneficiary to Agent of Change. Available online at: http://politicalscience.ie/?p=1112 (accessed May 14, 2020).
Clark, L. (1987). Promoting Refugee Participation in Assistance Projects. Washington, DC: Refugee Policy Group. Available online at: http://repository.forcedmigration.org/show_metadata.jsp?pid=fmo:399 (accessed May 14, 2020).
Deklaracja (2017, June 30). Deklaracja 12 prezydentów dużych polskich miast: migracje trzeba wspierać. Polityka. Available online at: https://www.polityka.pl/tygodnikpolityka/kraj/1710710,1,deklaracja-12-prezydentow-duzych-polskich-miast-migracje-trzeba-wspierac (accessed May 14, 2020).
Delcker, J. (2016, August 23). The phrase that haunts Angela Merkel. Politico. Available online at: https://www.politico.eu/article/the-phrase-that-haunts-angela-merkel/ (accessed May 10, 2020).
Ekiert, G., Kubik, J., and Wenzel, M. (2017). “Poland,” in Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities, eds P. Vandor, N. Traxler, R. Millner, and M. Meyer (Vienna: Erste Stiftung), 76–91.
Euronews. (2020). Greece Plans to Build a 2.7km Floating Fence to Stop Migrants Reaching its Islands. Available online at: https://www.euronews.com/2020/01/30/greece-plans-to-build-a-2-7km-floating-fence-to-stop-migrants-reaching-its-islands (accessed January 31, 2020).
Fedas, A. (2017, June 20). Integration starts at home. New Eastern Europe. Available online at: https://neweasterneurope.eu/2017/06/20/integration-starts-at-home/ (accessed May 12, 2020).
Górny, A., Grzymała-Moszczyńska, H., Klaus, W., and Łodziński, S. (2017). Uchodźcy w Polsce. Sytuacja prawna, skala napływu i integracja w społeczeństwie polskim oraz rekomendacje. Kraków-Warszawa: Komitet Badań nad Migracjami PAN.
Goździak, E. M., and Márton, P. (2018). Where the Wild Things are: Fear of Islam and the Anti-Refugee Rhetoric in Hungary and in Poland. Central Eastern Eur. Migrat. Rev. 7, 125–151. doi: 10.17467/ceemr.2018.04
Klaus, W. (2020). “Between closing borders to refugees and welcoming Ukrainian workers: Polish migration law at the crossroads,” in Europe and the Refugee Response: A Crisis of Values? eds E. M. Gozdziak, I. Main, and B. Suter (London: Routledge), 74–90.
Klaus, W., Lévay, M., Rzeplińska, I., and Scheinost, M. (2018). “Refugees and asylum seekers in Central European countries: reality, politics and the creation of fear in societies,” in Refugees and Migrants in Law and Policy, eds H. Kury and S. Redo (Cham: Springer), 1–34.
Kozubal, M. (2019). Repatriacja siȩ ślimaczy, mimo obietnic rzadu. Available online at: https://www.rp.pl/Polityka/308259949-Repatriacja-sie-slimaczy-mimo-obietnic-rzadu.html (accessed May 12, 2020).
Kubik, J. (2015). “Solidarity's afterlife: amidst forgetting and bickering,” in The Legacy of Polish Solidarity. Social Activism, Regime Collapse, and Building of a New Society, eds A. Rychard and G. Motzkin (Frankfurt: Peter Lang), 162–202.
Main, I. (2020). “Proclaiming and practicing pro-immigration values in Poland. A case study of Poznań,” in Europe and the Refugee Response: A Crisis of Values? eds E. M. Gozdziak, I. Main, and B. Sutter (London: Routledge), 269–285.
Malinowski, P. (2018). Dzień Solidarności z Uchodźcami. 68 mln ludzi na całym świecie. Available online at: https://www.rp.pl/Uchodzcy/181019495-Dzien-Solidarnosci-z-Uchodzcami-68-mln-ludzi-na-calym-swiecie.html (accessed May 12, 2020).
Miedema, C. H. (2019). Impartial in the cold war? The challenges of détente, dissidence, and Eastern European membership to amnesty international's policy of impartiality. Humanity 10, 179–205. doi: 10.1353/hum.2019.0014
Nagar, R., and Geiger, S. (2007). “Reflexivity and positionality in feminist fieldwork revisited,” in Politics and Practice in Economic Geography, eds A. Tickell, E. Sheppard, J. Peck, and T. Barnes (London: Sage), 267–278.
Nawrocki, N. (2018). An anarchist in Poland. in one gulp! Poland swallowed up by consumer capitalism. Available online at: https://www.fifthestate.org/archive/400-spring-2018/an-anarchist-in-poland/ (accessed May 12, 2020).
Nyczka, T. (2015, November 18). W Poznaniu odbędzie się pierwsza w Polsce muzułamńska demonstracja przeciw terrorystom. Gazeta Wyborcza – Poznań. Available online at: https://poznan.wyborcza.pl/poznan/1,36001,19210456,w-poznaniu-odbedzie-sie-pierwsza-w-polsce-muzulmanska-demonstracja.html (accessed May 15, 2020).
Nyczka, T., and Zytnicki, P. (2015, September 17). “Wyp. z uchodźcami!” Demonstracja na placu Wolności. Gazeta Wyborcza. Available online at: https://poznan.wyborcza.pl/poznan/1,36001,18844724,wyp-z-uchodzcami-demonstracja-na-placu-wolnosci.html (accessed May 12, 2020).
Oikonomakis, L. (2018). “Solidarity in transition: the case of Greece,” in Solidarity Mobilizations in the ‘Refugee Crisis’: Contentious Moves, ed D. Della Porta (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), 65–98.
Ortner, S. B. (2019). Practicing Engaged Anthropology. Anthropology of This Century 25. Available online at: http://aotcpress.com/articles/practicing-engaged-anthropology/ (accessed July 28, 2020).
Pędziwiatr, K. (2017). Islamophobia in Poland. National Report. Available online at: http://www.islamophobiaeurope.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/POLAND.pdf (accessed July 30, 2020).
Płomecka, B., and Stankiewicz, E. (2016). Flexible Solidarity: New Tool to Handle Refugee Crisis? Polskie Radio. Available online at: https://euranetplus-inside.eu/flexible-solidarity-a-new-tool-to-handle-refugee-crisis/ (accessed May 12, 2020).
Radłowska, R. (2018, November 26). Anna i Karol Wilczyńscy: katolicy, którzy ucza szacunku do islamu. Słyszą: jesteście dziwni. Gazeta Wyborcza. Available online at: https://wyborcza.pl/duzyformat/7,127290,24203980,anna-i-karol-wilczynscy-katolicy-ktorzy-ucza-szacunku-do.html (accessed May 10, 2020).
Rakopoulos, T. (2014). The crisis seen from below, within, and against: from solidarity economy to food distribution cooperatives in Greece. Dialectical Anthropol. 38, 189–207. doi: 10.1007/s10624-014-9342-5
Roy, A. (2014). The NGO-ization of Resistance. 2014-09-23. Pambazuka.org, 695. Available online at: https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/ngoisation-of-resistance-arundhati-roy/ (accessed May 12, 2020).
Rozakou, K. (2018). “Solidarians in the land of Xenios Zeus. Migrant deportability and the radicalization of solidarity,” in Critical Times in Greece. Anthropological Engagements With the Crisis, eds D. Dalakooglou and G. Agelopoulos (London: Routledge), 188–201.
Sakson, A. (2016). “Cztery fale repatriacji Polaków ze Wschodu,” in Polityczne i społeczne aspekty wielokulturowości. Migracje i mniejszości, eds A. Adamczyk, A. Sakson, and C. Trosiak (Poznań: UAM), 205–222.
Scislowka, M. (2017). Catholic leaders are trying to correct anti-migrant policies of Poland's Government. America. The Jesuit Review. Available onlin at: https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/09/18/catholic-leaders-are-trying-correct-anti-migrant-policies-polands (accessed May 12, 2020).
United Nations (2016, April 15). Refugee crisis about solidarity, not just numbers, secretary-general says at event on global displacement challenge. Press Release. Available online at: https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sgsm17670.doc.htm (accessed May 12, 2020).
Wesołowski, W., and Gawkowska, A. (2006). “Jednostka, wspólnota i solidarność: motywy komunitarne w polskiej myśli społeczno-politycznej,” in Spotkania z kulturą. Antoninie Kłoskowskiej w piątą rocznicę śmierci, eds J. Kurczewska and E. Tarkowska (Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN), 246–93.
Wieliński, B. (2019, March 16). “Solidarność.” Jak psujemy najlepsze polskie logo. Rozmowa z Basilem Kerskim, Szefem ECS. Wywiad. Gazeta Wyborcza. Magazyn Swiateczny. Available online at: http://wyborcza.pl/magazyn/7,124059,24551977,solidarnosc-jak-psujemy-najlepsze-polskie-logo-rozmowa-z.html#nowyMTmagazyn (accessed March 16, 2019).
Womack, H. (2018). Polish City Leads the Way in Solidarity with Refugees. The City of Gdansk has offered a Warm Welcome to Migrants and Refugees. UNHCR. Available online at: https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/stories/2018/2/5a83febd4/polish-city-leads-way-solidarity-refugees.html (accessed March 216, 019).
Keywords: solidarity, solidarians, refugee crisis, Poland, flexible solidarity
Citation: Goździak EM and Main I (2020) Contesting Flexible Solidarity: Poland and the “Migration Crisis”. Front. Hum. Dyn. 2:562682. doi: 10.3389/fhumd.2020.562682
Received: 15 May 2020; Accepted: 18 August 2020;
Published: 08 October 2020.
Edited by:Anitta Kynsilehto, University of Tampere, Finland
Reviewed by:Paul Routledge, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Catherine Baillie Abidi, Dalhousie University, Canada
Olivia Teresa Ruiz Marrujo, College of the Northern Border, Mexico
Copyright © 2020 Goździak and Main. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Elżbieta M. Goździak, email@example.com