My academic career began at the intersections of war and political violence, resistant militarism, gender, and memory. My MA and subsequent book (Płeć powstania warszawskiego [Gender of the Warsaw Uprising]) were dedicated to the gender politics of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Combining oral history with archival sources and historical literature, I sought to understand the role women played in Polish WWII resistance and how their engagement was framed and concealed in cultural memory. My later works centered on the 21st century 'herstorical turn' in Polish memory of war, whereby both progressive and conservative actors sought to counter the 'false universalism' of prior national narratives. I also explored the gender politics of resistance and liberation struggles in an international comparative perspective. This line of work helped to illuminate the blind spots of international gender & militarism theorizing and argue that the CEE experience escapes some of the 'feminist fables' on militarism as a masculine project that is counterproductive to women's interests.
War, Memory & Gender
Illiberal Politics & Gender
When I started my PhD program, Central and Eastern Europe saw the rise of right-wing illiberal actors seeking to rewrite the post-1989 liberal democratic script. This development led me to study the gender dimensions of illiberal right-wing politics in Poland and Hungary particularly. Gender matters in the right-wing shift, but how exactly does it matter, is a fundamental question explored in this line of research. In a number of publications, I looked at the concept of 'gender' as a 'symbolic glue' for right-wing actors, analysed illiberal anti-gender politics as a reaction to the deficits of (neo)liberal democracy, as well as explored how illiberal politics is not merely a backlash, but a new form of governance that combines patters of gender backsliding, policy continuity and positive change.
As I continued to study WWII and its current reverberations in Poland, I understood that this was not merely a 'memory boom', but rather, an ongoing societal transformation of defense and a comeback of civic militarism. In my PhD, I conducted ethnographical fieldwork with paramilitary organizations to explore the paradoxical rise of (para)military civil society in post-1989 Poland under the structural demilitarization of Pax Europaea. This led me to my current area of research, namely, the societal transformations of defense organization in CEE. With the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine, COVID-19, hybrid interference, and irregular migration, the security contract between citizens and their states is shifting. In my works, I explore how this ongoing transformation is bringing about patterns of conventional militarization, new forms of civic engagement in defense, as well as a rewriting of citizenship, civil-military relations, and gender roles.